Are you a soup person? I am, without a doubt. Whatever the weather, I find great comfort in soups of all persuasions: a rich chowder to ward off biting winds, a perfectly chilled gazpacho to celebrate summer's tomato bounty, a seafood-studded bouillabaisse for whenever I can get my hands on it. There's a soup to suit every whim, every mood.
If pressed, I'd say one of my absolute favorites is a good old fashioned cream of mushroom soup. Call it nostalgia, but the canned version of my youth (you know the one) set me on a course to appreciate all of its various forms and friends, including the chunky potage and velvety vichyssoise.
It seems Sarah Britton of My New Roots also felt the same way. Britton is known for her vibrant, health-focused recipes, and she used the canned soup of her childhood as a jumping-off point for a beautiful, cream-less cream of mushroom soup in her latest cookbook, Naturally Nourished: Healthy, Delicious Meals Made with Everyday Ingredients.
"The cream of mushroom soup I ate as a kid slid out of can in one beige, congealed cylinder of mystery," Britton tells us. "Warmed and whisked together with milk, it turned out okay in the end, but it tasted mostly of salt with a distinctive fatty finish on the roof of my mouth. I wanted to recreate the coziness of that meal, but with some actual mushroom flavor and creaminess without the cream."
Britton's version, as the title of the recipe suggests, is a luxurious soup with the characteristic earthiness and velvety texture we associate with classic cream of mushroom soup, with none of the heaviness. What exactly gives her soup that beautiful texture, if not the cream?
"My goal for this recipe makeover was to make the soup even more delicious, but also healthier, and I’ve come up with a rich and filling version that employs white beans instead of dairy to get that comforting unctuousness that cures any winter night’s chill. You can use any white beans you can get your hands on: navy, great white northern, cannellini, or butter beans, and although I always recommend cooking your own from dried, if you’re pressed for time, just use canned!" Aha! The secret to the wondrous texture lies in a pantry ingredient many of us have waiting in the wings.
And don't even think about skipping the amazing garlic-herb croutons that are meant to top this already tasty soup. If you find yourself snacking on them well after the soup is done, we won't tell.
Feeling really adventurous? Sarah recommends going beyond creminis: "Oysters, shiitakes, and chanterelles are exciting substitutes that will really change up the flavor—you can even use a combination."
For Luxurious Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 large leek
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
- 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried), plus more for garnish
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- 14 ounces / 400 grams cremini mushrooms
- 2 cups / 500 vegetable broth
- 1 cup / 250 ml plant-based milk of your choice
- 1 1/2 cups / 250 grams (about 1 15-ounce an) white beans, such as navy, butter, cannellini, or great Northern, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Garlic-herb croutons (recipe follows)
For Garlic-Herb Croutons (makes 4 cups)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 cups 330 grams cubed whole-grain bread
Are you a cream of mushroom fan? Let us know your favorite way to prepare this nostalgic dish at home.