The Allure of Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. With their unique umami and diverse textures, mushrooms bring depth and complexity to any dish they grace. From delicate chanterelles to hearty portobellos, the mushroom kingdom offers a wealth of flavors and textures. Growing up, I had no idea there were so many types of mushrooms. Montana grocery stores only carried basic white mushrooms. The mushroom soup I grew up eating came straight out of a red and white can. But Mom would whisk in a can of milk, season with pepper, and serve it up with a pat of butter and a side of toast.  

Mushroom soup was one of the first soups I ever made from scratch and the one that started this whole journey into finding the best soup recipes. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to whip up this childhood favorite. Not to mention that this scratch recipe was infinitely better than the canned variety. It was at that moment that I left canned soups in the past forever.

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mushroom soup
mushroom soup

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Umami

Umami means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. This elusive fifth taste is often described as savory and mouthwatering. As the mushrooms simmer and release their natural juices, they infuse the broth with a depth of flavor that is both comforting and satisfying. Still don’t get it? Umami is like the secret ingredient that takes a dish from ordinary to extraordinary. It’s like the difference between eating a steak that is unseasoned and overcooked to a bite of steak that is perfectly seasoned and melts in your mouth.

Versatility

One of the greatest virtues of mushrooms is the versatility. Whether mushrooms are enjoyed as a stuffed appetizer, a nourishing main course, or even as a decadent sauce over pasta, rice or meat, mushrooms adapt to any role they’re assigned.

Nutritional Benefits

A quick search on the Google will tell you that mushrooms boast an array of nutritional benefits. They are low in calories and fat but rich in essential nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, and antioxidants. Moreover, they are known for their immune-boosting properties and potential anti-inflammatory effects, making mushroom soup not only a delight for the taste buds but also a boon for overall health and well-being.

Variations

Little more is needed to make this mushroom soup one you will crave time and again. It’s always fun to experiment with different varieties of mushrooms, herbs, and spices until you discover the perfect symphony of flavors that speaks to your palate.

This recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fresh basil, which might be hard to come by in the winter months, depending on where you live. You can substitute 1 heaping tablespoon of dried basil or even try out some other herbs like thyme. The variety of mushrooms you use is really up to you. I like to use cremini or white mushrooms.

Use beef stock or bullion for a deeper earthy flavor. (My favorite is Better Than Bouillon and comes in a variety of flavors.)Try a splash of white wine after sauteing the mushrooms and onions to increase the acidity. Add a cup of cooked barley to add bulk to the soup.

Mushroom Soup

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Soup
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 24 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp lightly flavored oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 med onion
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk or half and half
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Instructions
 

  • Separate the mushroom caps from the stalks. Rough chop the stalks and 1/4 of the caps. Slice the remaining caps and set aside.
  • Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and rough-chopped stalks and caps of the mushrooms. Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, cover and sweat over low heat for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mushrooms will release their water in this process.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Gradually add the stock and the milk to make a smooth thin sauce. Add the chopped basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes.
  • Cool slightly and then either pour into a food processor or use an immersion blender and process until the desired level of smoothness is acquired.
  • Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan and fry the remaining mushroom for 3-4 minutes, until tender and starting to brown.
  • Add the fried mushrooms to the soup. Heat until very hot and adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve topped with a small pat of butter and sprinkle with a few fresh basil leaves.
Keyword basil, cremini mushrooms, mushroom, mushroom soup, soup, white mushrooms