Western Soup – Cream of Mushroom

Western Soup - 001 Cream of Mushroom edited

A Cream of Mushroom soup that tastes creamy with a full robust flavour but it is dairy-free. If you use a Home-made vegetable stock instead of any meat stock then you have a vegetarian Cream of Mushroom Soup. The choice is yours!

Here are some interesting points about the benefits of mushrooms taken from http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au

  • They have a different nutrition profile to fruit and vegetables and evidence is mounting that having mushrooms in the diet offers unique health benefits. In fact, the latest research indicates that it is a smart decision to eat mushrooms daily as they influence blood lipids, blood glucose, immunity and weight control, and offer many essential nutrients and antioxidants.
  • The natural glutamates in mushrooms give them their deep flavour, making them a favourite with meat eaters and vegetarians alike.The natural free glutamates in mushrooms are not to be confused with the monosodium glutamate (MSG) sometimes added to foods as a flavour enhancer. There is no MSG in mushrooms.

Some comments about the ingredients

  • Home-made Chicken Stock (click here). Nothing is better than home-made chicken stock but if you must, my daughter in-law introduced me to the featured jar of chicken base. It is a suitable substitute when you are in a bind for time. Some find that using a Pork Stock gives a richer flavour to their soup (Click here) for a post.
  • Fresh Thyme is not always on hand ( fresh herbs are expensive in Singapore and they don’t thrive well in a hot tropical climate). Dried thyme is a good substitute.
  • Mushrooms. Do use a combination of them. A variety balances their flavours. If you can get hold of some dried porcini please re-constitute them and use 30 to 50 gm dried porcini. Fresh shiitake and white button mushrooms are inexpensive and easily available at the wet and supermarkets in Singapore . Cremini and Swiss brown mushrooms may also be used. Do not use dried shiitake mushrooms as their flavour is much too pungently Asian!

Preparation

Fresh mushrooms are like small sponges so don’t wash them under the tap. The easiest way to clean them is to take a disposable kitchen napkin, crunch it up and gently wipe to dust bits of the growing medium from your mushrooms. I have never found it necessary to buy a mushroom brush. Kitchen drawers can be easily clogged up with too many gadgets!

Shiitake mushroom (both fresh and dried varieties) have tough stems which must be removed before cooking. Keep the stems if you will be making a vegetable stock soon. Dice mushrooms into smaller pieces.

Cooking

STEP 1. Heat a 6 to 8 quart stock pot or other similar sized pots over medium high heat. Add in 4 to 5 Tbsp olive oil. Once oil heat up, add in chopped onions and cook to soften and then lightly caramelize them.

STEP 2. Add in diced mushrooms and cook to soften. Then, carefully pour in half of the chicken broth and continue cook over medium heat, covered (lid should be set an angle to let off steam which prevents cooking soup from overflowing). Cook till soup boils. Remove from heat. Cool soup by adding in the other half of chicken stock. Cool soup down from boiling point before blending prevents heat build-up in your appliance. Heat build-up may cause a small explosion. This cooling step is especially important if you are using a small blender.

If you possess an immersion blender then you can skip this “cooling” step. Just add in all your stock to cook and blend with your immersion blender.

STEP 3. Pour a sufficient amount of soup into your blender or food processor to bland it finely. Depending on the size of your appliance, you may have to split the soup into 2 or 3 portions to blend.

STEP 4. Just before serving, bring the blended soup back to boiling point. Scoop soup into attractive western style soup bowls and garnish with 1 to 2 Tbsp of cooking cream and some sliced button mushrooms. Alternatively, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a fresh sprig of thyme is also an attractive garnish.

RECIPE

Serves: 6 to 8 persons

Ingredients

  • 200 gm shiitake mushroom
  • 300 gm button mushroom
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1.7 litres unsalted Home-made Chicken/Pork or Beef Stock
  • 4 to 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried Thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground Black pepper to taste

Totally Optional Items

  • 300 ml of Creme Fraiche; cooking cream or a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Truffle Oil
  • 1 slice of cheese toast or garlic bread for each person

Method

1. Prepare all ingredients as suggested

2.  Heat a 6 to 8 quart stock pot or other similar sized pots over medium high heat. Add in 2 Tbsp each of olive oil and butter. Once oils heat up, add in chopped onions and cook to soften and then lightly caramelise them.

3. Add in diced mushrooms and cook to soften. Then, carefully pour in half of the chicken broth and cook over medium heat, covered (lid should be set an angle to let off steam which prevents cooking soup from overflowing). Cook soup till it boils. Cool soup by adding in the other half of chicken stock. Cooling soup before blending prevents heat build-up in your appliance.

Caution. Heat build-up is dangerous and it may cause small explosion unless you leave the “stopper” in the cover off. This cooling step is especially important if you are using a small blender. If you possess an immersion blender then you can skip this “cooling” step. Just add in all your stock to cook and blend with your immersion blender.

4.  Blend soup finely using your blender or food processor. Depending on the size of your appliance, you may have to split the soup into 2 or 3 portions to blend. Adjust thickness of soup by adding a few tablespoons of stock or water and re-heat.

5. Just before serving, bring the blended soup back to boiling point. Scoop soup into attractive western style soup bowls or plates. Garnish with 1 to 2 Tbsp of cooking cream and some sliced button mushrooms. Alternatively, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or Truffle Oil and a fresh sprig of thyme is also an attractive garnish.

HINT: This soup freezes well. Cook a double recipe. Pack into 1 cup servings and freeze for future meals.

Serving Suggestions

May I suggest serving this warm flavourful soup with some Savoury crepes? Click here for my post called “Crepes – Savoury or Sweet” there is a recipe for savoury, “Chicken,Spinach and Feta”.

If you prefer a lighter filling, you may want to cure some Home-made Gravlax (Click here) and use slices of gravlax, light cream cheese and vinaigrette tossed green salad as a savoury crepe filly.

Serving your soup with Chicken Salad Sandwiches (Click here) is also a pleasing combination.

How about this universal crowd pleaser? Caramel Custard. Click here.

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