Anyone local reading my blog who sees that I’ve been simmering pots of cream of mushroom soup on the stove might think I’ve gone out of my mind. While it’s October, the leaves are falling, and there are pumpkins everywhere you look, it’s also been consistently in the mid-80’s.
Granted, I’m someone who’s happy to get cozy with a steamy bowl of soup any time of year, but it this isn’t exactly the weather you’d typically associate with “soup season.” Yet here I am, sautéing, deglazing, and simmering away!
Whether digging into a bowl to warm up on a cold day (whenever that might be), or serving it as an elegant start to a dinner party or holiday meal, a bowl of homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup is never something I’d turn down. Especially when it’s made with earthy mixed mushrooms, fragrant thyme, and a splash of sherry. Swoon.
What Kind of Mushrooms Should I Use?
My favorite cream of mushroom soup is made with a hearty proportion of cremini mushrooms (sometimes called “Baby Bellas”), mixed with shiitake and oyster or chanterelle. I find that using a mix as opposed to a single variety makes a more complex soup with a well-rounded flavor.
In reality, you can turn just about any mushroom variety into a luxurious soup. Using all white button mushrooms will yield a soup that’s earthy, but very mild-tasting. I prefer a stronger mushroom flavor, so I rarely use a large proportion of buttons, but I’ll sometimes include them in my mushroom mix.
I usually prefer to buy whole mushrooms and slice them myself, but I have come across a few pre-sliced “gourmet mushroom blends” that have been fantastic in this soup recipe.
It’s fun to venture out and try making soup with different varieties of mushrooms that look fresh and interesting when you’re at the market.
Want to read more about different mushroom varieties before you go shopping? Check out this visual guide from Epicurious.
Making the Creamiest Mushroom Soup
My main grievance with various cream of mushroom soups I’ve eaten over the years has been the texture. I love a creamy soup base contrasted with pieces of meaty sautéed mushrooms.
Sometimes, though, the soup itself is too thin, other times way too thick, and a great deal of the time, just doesn’t have anywhere near enough mushrooms to really qualify as “mushroom soup”.
I use a full pound of mushrooms in this recipe and both puree some of them into the base (hello, flavor!), and leave a good amount whole for texture.
That said, if you’d prefer to turn this recipe into a smooth mushroom bisque, that’s certainly doable! Just puree the whole batch and add a bit more broth to thin the texture a bit.
Serving and Storing Cream of Mushroom Soup
You can make and refrigerate this soup a day or two ahead if you’re having a dinner party. In this case, I like to leave out the heavy cream in the recipe and add it once I’ve reheated the soup and am ready to serve my guests. It also freezes well with the cream omitted and similarly added after defrosting and heating.
I love to serve this Cream of Mushroom Soup with a few grinds of freshly-cracked pepper on top and a piece of crusty artisan bread on the side for dipping. Or, even better, with a batch of my Buttery Garlic Croutons. Bread and soup are a match made in comfort food heaven!
Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms (I use a mix of cremini, shiitake, and oyster or chanterelle)
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth or stock
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves *
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Clean mushrooms and discard any tough stems. Cut mushrooms into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside.
- In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt butter until foaming subsides. Add onion and cook until soft but not browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their liquid and are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add flour and stir to coat the mushroom mixture. Cook for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook for an additional minute, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in chicken or vegetable broth and thyme leaves. Bring to a boil, stirring. (The soup may look, for the lack of a better term, "gloppy" at this point. This is normal! As you stir and the liquid heats, the roux will dissolve.)
- Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Transfer 1-1/2 cups of soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Stir pureed soup back into the pot.
- Stir in heavy cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently warm over low heat, if needed, and serve.