Real Cream of Mushroom Soup

May 11, 2011

I don’t get it: Cream of mushroom soup in a can? It has been the quintessential ingredient for the holiday green bean casserole. It is also considered a crucial ingredient for tuna noodle casserole, and its flavor is in a word, ghastly!

Condensed, canned cream of mushroom soup is an icon in most American pantries, but it contains loads of salt, starch, coloring agents, stabilizers, artificial flavor and not much else.

Making cream of mushroom soup from scratch is so easy, and the soup you make will bear no resemblance to the thick-as-putty imitation that so many rely upon. Liberate your taste buds and see how easy it is to make the real thing.

There are many mushroom soup recipes out there calling for a bevy of mixed mushrooms. That’s fine if you’d like to stretch your budget — mushrooms like oyster and shitake can be pricey. Portobello mushrooms would not be a good choice in my opinion because their juices turn everything dark. Instead, the unassuming button mushroom, so available in supermarkets can be the base for a very flavorful and velvety soup. To save on the calorie laden cream part of the soup, use evaporated milk instead of flour, potato or heavy cream as thickners.

Once you make your own, you will want to kick the can.

Cream of Mushroom Soup… Not From A Can

Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
20 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
2 large leeks, white part only, rinsed well and minced
½ cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Two 12 ounce cans low fat evaporated milk
Salt to taste
Grinding black pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese croutons (optional)

Heat 1teaspoon of the olive oil in a soup pot; stir in one cup of the sliced mushrooms and sauté them until they give up their juices and begin to brown. Transfer them to a small bowl and set aside.

In the same pot add the remaining olive oil. Stir in the leeks and cook them over medium heat until they begin to wilt. Stir in the remaining mushrooms and continue to cook until they begin to throw off their liquid. Raise the heat to high and add the wine; allow most of it to evaporate then lower the heat to medium and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are very soft.

Off the heat, stir in 3 tablespoons of the thyme. Use an immersion or regular blender to puree the ingredients until smooth. Add the evaporated milk and continue to puree until the soup is smooth and the consistency of heavy cream. If you want it thinner use more milk.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cheese croutons.

Serve hot top with a few reserved cooked mushrooms and a sprinkling of additional thyme leaves.

To make Parmigiano Reggiano cheese croutons, save the rinds and cut them into small pieces.

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