Growing up, tomato soup and mushroom soup were my comfort food go-to’s. And yes, I’m talking about the condensed stuff, nothing gourmet about it. I did have one rule – the soup had to be mixed with milk. If you thinned a tin of soup with water, I was not interested. I mean, I did have standards. These days I still get a craving from time to time, but I am much more high-maintenance. I have to be feeling beyond bad to reach for a can of soup, which has happened more than I care to admit in 2020. But when I’m feeling fine and a craving crops up, I’d much rather make my own Creamy Mushroom Soup than crack open a can.
There is magic in learning to cook. It changes your whole perspective on the foods you enjoyed in your youth. Once you start to learn the structures behind a dish, you can’t help but attempt to backward engineer every meal you come across. I do this a lot with the food I remember loving as a kid.
As a child of the 90s, I coveted convenience food. I cringe when I think how much I resented having a mom that cooked most nights of the week. Honestly, my idea of a good night was a bowl of Mr. Noodles with too much hot sauce. And there was my mom, with amazing, nutritious – but not obnoxiously so – homemade meals. And I resented them because they got in the way of my precious preservatives.
Thankfully, my palate developed and I no longer crave the instant noodles and tinned soups of my youth… at least not as often. When I moved out of my childhood home, it was the home-cooked meals I once resented that I missed the most. So I started to learn to cook and I was astounded by how many of the convenience meals I obsessed over as a kid, were actually easy to make from scratch. This Creamy Mushroom Soup happens to be one of them.
It’s amazing how many things we think we need a mix for. Soups, puddings, pancakes, and regular cakes just to name a few. What most people don’t realize is these mixes are essentially the dry ingredients sifted together, which really only saves you at most two steps. And condensed soups? Well, a basic bechamel can do everything they can do but better. And by better I mean, you have more control over the ingredients, flavoring, and sodium levels. Making a roux is a simple technique that, like most culinary skills, gets easier every time you do it. What seems complicated in the beginning will become second nature eventually, and making a roux is no different.
So what is a roux? Well, a roux is equal parts butter and flour, whisk together to form a sort of thickening agent. Once a roux is formed, you need only whisk in the liquid of your choice. Milk is traditional if you’re making a bechamel, which can become mornay sauce if you add shredded cheese. A mornay sauce is the backbone of yet another beloved convenience food – mac and cheese. But if you whisk veggie stock into your roux and add in a pile of sauteed mushrooms you get this Creamy Mushroom Soup.
A roux gives soups and sauces body. It’s what makes these concoctions coat the back of the soup. Cream, of course, can further emphasize this characteristic and add sweetness, but for a truly thick and creamy soup, only a roux will do. So, to make this Creamy Mushroom Soup you simply saute some mushrooms and onions in a large pot. Then you remove them and build your roux. Whisk in a little booze for a bit of depth – I used cognac – and whisk in your stock. From there you add the mushroom back in, simmer, and finish with a little milk. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. But I’m me so I did make it more complicated than that, but only just.
I opted to top my soup with a dollop of yogurt, chives, and roasted mushrooms. I chose to roast some of the mushrooms mostly for visual interest because, let’s face it, mushroom soup is a sea of beige. The roasted mushrooms did add some extra oomph in the form of caramelized flavors and differing textures. But they are totally optional. If the idea of dirtying a baking sheet for a bowl of soup is beyond the pale for you – skip it. You’ll still have a kick-ass soup on your hands.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Creamy Mushroom Soup with Yogurt and Chives. Its deep, earthy flavor and velvety texture will make you forget all about the canned stuff. Trust me, this is a low-effort recipe with maximum flavor pay off.
Creamy Mushroom Soup with Yogurt and Chives
- A large enamel-coated cast iron pot
- 454g (1lb) cremini mushrooms
- 200g (7 oz) shiitake mushrooms
- 200g (7 oz) oyster mushrooms
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallots halved and sliced
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cognac
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaping
- 1 cup milk I used 2%
- ½ cup Greek yogurt for serving
- ¼ cup fresh chives finely chopped, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Select a few of the smaller mushrooms, no more than a cup's worth, and arrange them on a baking sheet greased with oil. Drizzle the mushrooms with half of the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside. Slice all the remaining mushrooms and set aside.
- Pour the remaining olive oil into a large enamel coated cast iron pot. Place the pot over medium-low heat and, once the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and a healthy pinch of salt. Sweat the shallots until just translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot. Don't worry about crowding the pan, we're not looking caramelize the mushrooms all that much. Saute until the mushrooms are tender. Taste and season with salt, and then transfer the veg to a bowl and set aside.
- Melt the butter in the now-empty pot. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour to form a roux. Once the roux begins to smell nutty, add the cognac and whisk until integrated.
- Slowly whisk in all of the vegetable stock and return the veg to the pot. Add the thyme and bay leaves and bring the mixture up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes. Your oven should be up to temperature by now, so place the reserved mushrooms on the baking sheet in the oven and roast for 15 minutes or until golden.
- Once the 15 minutes have passed, stir in the Dijon mustard and the milk into the soup. Taste the soup and season with salt accordingly. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with some of the roasted mushrooms, a dollop of yogurt, and a sprinkling of fresh chives. Serve immediately.