We don't do cream-of-anything soup here. I'm sure it's because when I was a kid, my mom used to make this dish she called "Chicken Spaghetti," which everyone else in the family loved, but even now just the memory of the smell of it cooking makes me throw up a little.
It consisted of cooked chicken, a few cans of cream-of-something-unidentifyable soup, curry powder, cooked spaghetti, and slices of velveeta cheese on top that, rather than melt, turned black under the broiler. Maybe some canned chilis, too -- I don't remember. I never ate it.
Anyway, I still remember the sound that an emptying can of cream-of-garbage soup makes, thanks to this dish. Scarred for life, I am.
So this soup is NOT cream of mushroom. It tastes like it might have cream in it, but it doesn't. The last thing I want to do on a camping trip is worry excessively about keeping my cream cold enough, so we don't even go there.
The creaminess is due to a little trick I discovered -- gently sauteed chopped onions and cauliflower, when blended thoroughly with an immersion blender and a little stock, creates a wonderfully creamy texture, nearly equal to any cream-based soup I've tasted. Of course this little substitution doesn't work when you're making something like pumpkin pie, but try it out the next time your savory recipe calls for cream.
1 handful dried wild mushrooms (porcini, oyster, shiitake...whatever)
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
2 t lemon juice
4-5 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper
1/4 t dried thyme
Freshly cracked black pepper, if desired
Mascarpone cheese and/or truffle oil, for garnish, if desired (and if keeping this recipe vegan isn't important to you)
- Place dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water (about 2 cups). Allow to sit while you make the rest of the soup.
- Heat olive oil in stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, and crimini mushrooms. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat about 15 minutes, or until onions are very soft (don't let them brown on the edges!) and cauliflower is cooked through.
- Deglaze pan with wine and lemon juice. Stir, scraping the bottom, about two minutes.
- Add vegetable broth and using an immersion blender, blend the vegetables into a very creamy mixture (this may take about 6-7 minutes...don't stop too soon!).
- Remove the mushrooms from the water (save the soaking liquid!) and rinse, being sure to remove all remaining grit. Chop about half, reserving the other half. Strain the soaking liquid and reserve.
- Add chopped mushrooms to the pot, and adjust the consistency with the reserved soaking liquid. Cook about 15 minutes, or until mushrooms are very soft.
- Season with salt and pepper, and add dried thyme. Serve, garnishing with reserved mushrooms. Add freshly cracked black pepper, if desired. Add about a tablespoon mascarpone and/or truffle oil (just a couple drops!) if desired.