If you grew up on cream of mushroom soup from a can, you probably hold a special place for it in your heart. These days, however, we know just how full of artificial stuff those canned soups are and hopefully we, in the collective sense, stay away from them, no matter how much we may crave them. But never fear, I'm here with a simple recipe for a homemade version that is creamy, rich, all-natural and much lower in fat than the original version--in fact there's barely any cream in here at all! What there is, is a ton of mushroom flavor and a wonderful velvety texture, so if you're looking to serve a first course at Thanksgiving or just want to enjoy a comforting bowl of soup, look no further!
The soup gets its intense flavor from 2 pounds of mushrooms--I used a combo of button and baby bella as well as leeks.
There's only half a cup of cream for the whole big pot. The secret to the creaminess comes from a little rice, which not only cooks in the soup but gets pureed in the end, lending a thickness and richness that you'll enjoy down to the last drop. You start by sauteeing the chopped leeks in a little butter and then by adding the mushrooms and garlic, the broth and the rice. Then all that cooks for about half an hour, at which point you either transfer the soup to a blender to puree or use an immersion blender, which is infinitely easier (see my post on Butternut Squash Soup. If you like to make soup, you should definitely invest in one--it's so much less messy than having to transfer from pot to blender.) When all that's done, you stir in the cream and serve. Perfect for all this nasty weather we're having!!
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Serves 8 as a first course
Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only, I used 3 leeks
2 pounds mushrooms, sliced, any kind
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup long-grain rice
3 1/4 cups low salt chicken broth
3 1/4 cups beef broth (you could use all chicken or vegetable broth to keep this vegetarian)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fresh chives, minced to use as a garnish (optional)
1. In a large stockpot, melt the butter and saute the leeks over medium heat, until tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms. Saute mushrooms until soft and dry for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Then stir in rice and both broths and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered, until the rice is very tender.
2. Let cool slightly and using immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (alternatively you can transfer soup to a blender in batches to puree and then return to the pot). Add the cream and mix well. If too thick, add a bit more broth to thin it out. Serve immediately.
3. Soup lasts for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheats very well in the microwave.
Note: Recipe barely adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook.