The UPS person just dropped off a shipment that included a pound of dried Italian Porcini mushrooms. We happen to love Porcinis because they have a lot of mushroom flavor, and go so well in so many dishes. Therefore, we buy them in bulk and a pound will usually last us 6 to 9 months. With all those mushrooms scenting up our cupboard, we knew we had to make something that really shows off the mushroom flavor, and what could be better than Cream of Mushroom Soup?
It’s funny, when I was a child, I actually liked Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. A lot. I liked the way it came out of the can in a congealed mass, and that you just had to add some water (or perhaps milk, I forget), heat and eat.
As an adult, I put away some childish things, including my fondness for Campbell’s. Now, it just tastes like a salt lick to me and we don’t bother buying it (and haven’t, for years). Instead, when we want to have soup, we just scratch it up. It’s not that difficult, you’ll see, and it’s so much better.
In making this soup, like all cream soups and a bunch of other recipes, you start with a roux. We’ve gotten tired of photos of butter and flour cooking in a pan, so you won’t find them in this recipe, but you can find them elsewhere on this site.
- 1/4 cup dried Porcinis (about 1/2 ounce)
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup onion, finely minced
- 1/4 tsp crushed garlic
- 2 cups Half and Half
- 2 cups milk
- 10 fresh Crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
Porcinis really have a lot of mushroom flavor, so you’ll want those or some other strong- flavored mushroom, otherwise your soup will taste mainly like cream. Adding fresh Crimini mushrooms is so you have pieces of mushrooms that look like mushrooms. The dried Porcinis break into pieces, and we chop them up into bits. Half and Half: you can get by with just milk, but it is creamier with Half and Half. Heavy cream would be over the top, so save that for something else.
Rehydrate mushrooms. Put your dried Porcinis in a heat-proof bowl and pour a cup of boiling water over them. We happened to use our scale so that we could just pour the water from the tea kettle. Set aside for 1-3 hours.
Make roux. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan on low heat. When melted, add flour and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Add onion and garlic. Once the flour butter mixture is a light brown, add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add mushroom broth. Carefully drain the rehydration water from the Porcinis into the sauce pan, and whisk together. It will release a lot of steam as you add the mushroom water, so watch yourself or you’ll be getting a steam burn. It will thicken quite quickly.
Add Half and Half. Add the Half and Half and whisk together until you have a smooth sauce.
Add milk. Add the milk and whisk until smooth and well-combined.
Add mushrooms. Add the chopped Porcini and sliced Crimini mushrooms and stir to combine.
Add thyme and bay leaf. Add the teaspoon of thyme and the bay leaf, and stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer. Over medium heat, while stirring. bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes. This will help the flavors meld and the cream base to thicken a bit more.
Season to taste. Remove bay leaf, and add salt and pepper to taste.
There, that wasn’t so hard! Yes, more trouble than opening a can, but also much, much better. This is a soup you would be proud to serve to company. Try that with Campbell’s. Oh, and we’ll admit it, this was soooo good that we ate all four servings for lunch. It must get five stars.