I’ve been dreaming of cream of mushroom soup…

A few months back I was making a wild mushroom soup from Gourmet magazine that was, you know, good, but also, eh. But shame on me, really, because in 2020 I found the perfect, best-ever, fail-proof, tastiest recipe so why did I fall for the shiny new thing? Isn’t that the point of all this trial-and-error, anyway?

a massive amount of mushrooms
into the pot
rehydrated mushrooms

What was missing from the bland mushroom soup was bulk. So many varied soup recipes come down to a similar process: a sauté of onions, leeks or garlic and herbs, a pile of vegetables simmered in stock until soft, then pureed and topped with cream, grated cheese or a splash of booze or if you’re super-lucky, all three. But if you want to make it taste like more than watery vegetables, you’re going to need some volume. This cream of mushroom soup has over two pounds of sliced mushrooms with a relatively small volume of broth coaxing it gently into soup form — there’s nothing more worthy of your spoon.

ready to blend
balthazar's cream of mushroom soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I’ve made this over 10 times in 2020 and tend to use far less olive oil (4 to 5 tablespoons), have frequently replaced the chicken stock with beef or vegetable broth, and I don’t fully puree it, leaving some mushrooms intact for more texture. I also use about 1/2 to 2/3 the suggested cream, drizzling a tiny bit over the finished bowls for extra impact. You might find you’re okay with even less. I also forget the butter at the end almost every time, a shame as I prefer to never miss an excuse to finish a dish with butter, heheh.

  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms (porcini, morels, or shiitake)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 fresh sprigs of sage
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 pound white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Prepare your dried mushrooms: Soak them in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes, until plump. Remove them from the liquid and mince the mushrooms, setting them aside. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove grit and reserve this too.

Make the soup: Bundle your sage and rosemary together with kitchen twine. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on both sides to infuse the oil. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown. Turn the flame to high and add the white mushrooms and shiitakes. Cook for 10 minutes, during which the mushrooms will give off their liquid (which should evaporate quickly due to the high heat) and deflate significantly. Stir occasionally.

Add the chicken stock and the dried mushrooms along with the soaking water. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the herbs, then add the cream and butter. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender (or, if you have an immersion blender, it makes this much easier; you can work right inside your pot) until your desired consistency, or fully smooth. Return to the pot and keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve.

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