Mother's Day

A Luxurious Cream of Mushroom Soup—Without the Cream!

March  1, 2018

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.

Silky, velvety, and luxurious (just like the name suggests!). Photo by Julia Gartland

"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."

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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."

Are you a cream of mushroom fan? Let us know your favorite way to prepare this nostalgic dish at home.

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.

1 Comment

HalfPint March 1, 2018
My friend makes an lovey velvety mushroom soup. Her secret weapon is a chinois, which she uses to produce that creamy mouth-feel without the any dairy.