Sunday, October 23, 2011

Magnificent mushroom soup

Many people use condensed cream of mushroom soup as a binder or additive for casseroles or a base for sauces and stews. I’ve used countless cans in casseroles and sauces, but I love to eat cream of mushroom in any form. It’s been a favorite soup of mine since childhood. I happily chose it over chicken noodle (or any other) when my mother would whip up a quick lunch. This was much to my brother’s chagrin – he was not a fan, and of course we had to share whatever can my mom opened.

When I was in college, I worked a variety of waitressing jobs. At one, the cook always made a soup at lunch. I loved eating a bowl of cream of mushroom soup on days that was the special. And it was one of the first homemade soups I made to eat off my wedding china as a new bride.

Canned cream of mushroom soup can be improved significantly with just a few sautéed mushrooms and a splash of sherry. But lately I have wanted to make a large batch to freeze and use for future casseroles. Sometimes I can find condensed cream of mushroom for as little as $1 per (14 ounce) can. This is roughly 2 cups of soup. I aimed this week to compare the cost and taste of making a homemade version.

The short answer: My version yielded about 8 cups of soup and cost about $4 to make. That’s similar to the discount condensed soup at the store. But the flavor of this soup is incomparable. If you love cream of mushroom, to use in casseroles or just to eat, consider making a batch yourself. You house will smell fantastic!

You’ll need:
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used white button mushrooms)
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
½ cup white wine
½ onion, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon each, dried basil and oregano
3 cups milk (or cream)

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms and onions in two batches, until they are slightly browned.

Place mushrooms in a 6-quart slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the wine over the mushrooms in the cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and dried basil and oregano.

Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and let the soup mixture cool for about 30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup. I left some larger pieces of mushroom, because I love it that way. Stir in the milk and combine thoroughly. This soup is thin, but could be thickened with cornstarch or flour.

I packed the soup in four plastic containers, 2 cups each. The soup can be used immediately, or frozen up to three months.

If you are a mushroom soup fan, give this easy, tasty recipe a try!

1 comment:

  1. I've already used two containers of this soup -- one in a casserole with ham, noodle and cheese; the other with pork chops and potatoes. It is delicious!