Most people I know wouldn’t dream of eating cream of mushroom soup on its own. They like it just fine in recipes, but that’s as far as it goes. I’ve heard random reasons like it’s too boring, it reminds them of glue (lol, what?!), or it’s too unhealthy. I’ve even had people tell me, oh, I thought it was only used for cooking! A couple more questions always reveals that they have never had homemade cream of mushroom soup, only the stuff from the can. And I agree, who would be head over heels for that?
I like to make my own because it’s a world of difference from the canned variety (like night and day), plus I can customize it to suit my tastes. For example, I love the freshness of thyme and the woodsy flavor of rosemary paired with mushrooms, so I always add both these herbs. And I’d venture to say that my version is much healthier than the canned stuff, since there is no cream, very little butter, and much less salt. If you think you don’t like cream of mushroom soup but you’ve never had homemade, I recommend giving this a try!
(Yield: About 3 c, or 4 servings)
2 TB olive oil
6 oz cremini (baby portabella), white button, or any mix of mushrooms you like, wiped clean and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 TB minced fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
1/2 TB minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
2 TB dry white wine (or water)
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c whole milk
1 vegetable stock cube (or you could use a chicken or beef stock cube)
Salt and pepper
Add olive oil to a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat; when oil starts to ripple, add mushrooms and sauté until browned (about 5-7 minutes). Turn heat down to medium-low and add onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf; sauté until onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Add wine, then turn heat up to medium-high and cook about 1 minute, until liquid is cooked off (use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom).
In a separate medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter; whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in milk, stock cube, and 1/8 tsp pepper, and bring up to a boil (stirring occasionally), then turn heat down slightly and boil gently for 2 minutes (stirring constantly).
Transfer white sauce to the pot with the mushrooms; turn heat on medium-low and gently simmer 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.