Opening a can is easy and convenient, but once you’ve tried real cream of mushroom soup, it’s hard to go back to canned.
You’re probably thinking of Campbell’s. And you may presume that “cream of anything” soup originated in America. It didn’t.
Long before canning was invented, and long before there was Campbell’s, the Italians and the French have been cooking soups with Béchamel sauce (a roux with milk or cream) as the base.
And that’s how our cream of mushroom soup was cooked. With a roux. But the roux is formed after grated onion, chopped mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper had been happily swimming in the butter.
Adding the mushrooms much earlier than most cooks do coaxes out the flavor better. That means that, by the time the soup is done, it tastes of mushrooms instead of thickened milk.
And then, there’s the chicken bone broth. Most recipes use chicken bouillon or crumbled chicken bouillon cubes. But I find the aroma and flavor of chicken bouillon too artificial. I prefer chicken bone broth.
Real Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Peel the onion and grate until you have a quarter cup.
- Take four to six mushrooms and slice.
- Chop the rest of the mushrooms.
- Melt four tablespoons butter in a pot and spread the sliced mushrooms. Cook for a minute then flip to lightly brown the opposite sides.
- Scoop out and set aside.
- Saute the grated onion and dried thyme in the remaining butter in the pan.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and the remaining two tablespoons butter.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Add the flour and stir quickly.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so.
- Whisk the milk and broth together, and pour into the pot in a thin stream, stirring as you pour.
- Cook uncovered over medium heat (to prevent the milk from curdling), stirring often, until thick (it should coat the back of a spoon) and the soup leaves no flour-y sensation in the mouth.
- Taste. Depending on how well seasoned the chicken broth is, you may need to add more salt and pepper.
- To serve, ladle your real cream of mushroom soup into bowls and top with the sliced mushrooms.