Cream of mushroom soup has been a favorite of mine as long as I can remember. Of course when we were growing up it was Campbell’s and it came in a can.
But even as an 8 year old I took great pride in heating my own soup, and discovered for myself how much better it was if you added milk instead of water, and how important it was to slowly add the milk while stirring so it wouldn’t form clumps.
As a grown-up I still love mushroom soup, and happily make it from scratch using lots of fresh mushrooms, shallots, garlic, chicken stock and cream. Many people add a dash of sherry or nutmeg to mushroom soup.
I discovered a tip from a chef friend that just a little tarragon will help bring out the flavor of the mushrooms, so we’ve added a little dried tarragon to the soup base. Not everyone has this herb though, you can easily substitute thyme (or put in a dash of nutmeg).
How to make cream of mushroom soup
Our recipe calls for a couple pounds of cremini or button mushrooms. Either will do, though I think cremini (young portobello mushrooms) are a little tastier.
We also recommend adding a handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms to the soup. Even though they are more expensive than regular mushrooms, their flavor is much more intense and deepens the rich flavor of this soup.
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 pounds (900 g) cremini (or button) mushrooms, cleaned, roughly chopped or sliced 1/8-inch thick
- Small handful of shiitake mushrooms (chopped)
- 3/4 cup minced shallots (6 ounces, 170 g)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
1 Sauté the mushrooms: Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a 5-6 quart thick-bottomed pot. When the oil is hot, swirl in the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the mushrooms, stir to coat with the olive oil and butter.
Cook the mushrooms on medium high heat until they are lightly browned and have released most of their water, about 10 minutes.
Remove 1 cup of the cooked mushrooms from the pot and set aside (they will be added back in later).
2 Add shallots, garlic: Reduce heat to medium. Add the minced shallots and the garlic to the pot, stir to combine, cook for about a minute.
3 Add salt, tarragon, stock: Add the salt, dried tarragon, and the stock to the pot. Increase the heat to medium high, bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
4 Purée soup: Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée the soup until smooth.
Then return to the pot. (If the soup is too thick for you, add some water or more stock to thin the soup to the desired level of thickness.)
5 Stir in cream and reserved mushrooms: Whisk the cream into the soup and add the black pepper. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the reserved cooked mushrooms.