Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup in bowl

A perfect starter for festive winter meals

December means parties, entertaining, and festive events all around. So we need to whip up some guest-pleasing delights—especially if we’re hosting big dinners.

Main courses always seem to sort themselves out, but what about starters? We want something hearty (to take the edge off those winter appetites). Something out of the ordinary, too—but not difficult to make.

So how about cooking up some homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup? It’s rich and delicious, but not time-consuming.

Once you try it, you’ll never go back to the canned stuff. Ever.


Cream of Mushroom Soup in bowl

Recipe: Cream of Mushroom Soup

Classic Cream of Mushroom Soup probably originated in France, where it’s called Potage Velouté aux Champignons. As the name suggests, it’s made with velouté sauce—essentially a white sauce made with a butter and flour roux as the base. It’s almost the same sauce as a Béchamel sauce, but instead of using milk as a liquid, velouté uses a lightly-flavored stock.

In a cream soup like this, you’ll get better flavor if you replace some of the stock with milk, so that’s what we do here. Making velouté sauce takes a few minutes of attention at the stove, but it’s easy—and it gives the soup terrific texture and taste.

There are various methods of making this soup, including complicated ones that finish it by using egg yolks to make an emulsion (more on this in the Notes). We prefer an easier, more straightforward method. Our recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook.

Prep time for this recipe is 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds another 40 minutes or so, much of it unattended.

This recipe serves 4 as a first course, or two as a main course. If you’re serving a crowd, it’s easy to double this recipe. Leftovers keep OK if refrigerated in an airtight container.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup chicken stock, heated
  • 3 cups whole milk, preferably heated (see Notes; may substitute skim milk, but the dish won’t be nearly as rich)
  • ½ cup diced onions (a bit more or less is fine; about 1 small onion)
  • ~½ pound mushrooms (white mushrooms work, but consider portabellas or another variety—see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt to taste (a few pinches; see Notes)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste (a few grinds; may substitute white pepper if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ~¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme; may substitute fresh tarragon)
  • ½ cup heavy cream (use a bit more for a richer soup; may substitute sour cream)
  • additional Kosher salt to taste
  • additional freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • garnish of sliced mushrooms and/or parsley, fresh thyme, or tarragon
Procedure
  1. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (hold over low heat). In a separate saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer (hold over low heat). You’ll be using both these ingredients in Step 6.
  2. Peel the onion and cut it into dice of ¼ inch (or even finer).
  3. Prep the mushrooms: Wipe any dirt off them (wash and dry them if they’re really dirty). Cut the mushrooms into dice of ¼ inch or so (if you don’t want to do this by hand, whirl them briefly in a food processor, but don’t overprocess—you want the mushrooms to retain some texture).
  4. In a 3-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the diced onion. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (a few pinches/grinds of each), then sauté until the onion is limp and translucent, but not browned (7 minutes, maybe 8; if you’re impatient, you can even get away with 4 or 5 minutes).
  5. When the onion is translucent, add the flour and stir to incorporate. Cook the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring continuously to make a roux.
  6. Remove pot with the roux from the heat. After a few seconds (when the roux stops bubbling), add the hot chicken stock while stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon to blend. Keep stirring until you have a smooth mixture. Now whisk in the milk and return the saucepan to the heat. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes or more over low heat, until the mixture lightly coats a spoon. If it’s too thick, add some additional milk. Whisk or stir frequently during this time—you don’t want the mixture to scorch.
  7. When the soup base is ready, stir in the mushrooms and thyme. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes (or longer, if you prefer). Stir frequently—again, you don’t want the soup to scorch.
  8. Now add the cream, and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste, and add additional salt and/or black pepper if necessary.
  9. Garnish (if you wish), and serve.
Cream of Mushroom Soup in bowl

Notes
  • If you prefer, you can leave out the milk and instead increase the amount of chicken stock (see Steps 1 and 6). The soup base won’t be quite as rich, though, so add extra cream if you go this route.
  • Why heat the chicken stock (Step 1)? So lumps won’t form when you add it to the roux (Step 6).
  • Same deal with the milk—although after you add hot chicken stock to the roux, even cold milk probably won’t form lumps if you add it slowly and whisk while you’re doing it. But we always heat the milk; it just seems to work better that way.
  • Better quality mushrooms make a better soup. The everyday white button mushrooms work fairly well in this dish, but portabellas add more oomph. Or use a variety of mushrooms for even more interesting flavor.
  • Kosher salt is more coarse than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If you’re substituting table salt for Kosher, always use less—about half as much. If the dish isn’t salty enough for you, it’s easy to add more salt later.
  • Which is a good reminder: Always taste as you cook, and adjust seasonings to your palate. Your taste always trumps what the recipe specifies.
  • That goes for using herbs in this soup, too. We like just a touch of flavor from the herbs so they don’t overpower the mushrooms. But by all means add a larger quantity if that tastes better to you.
  • A (perhaps) more traditional way of making this dish is to add egg yolk at the end. This adds good flavor and silky smoothness—though we don’t think it improves the soup enough to justify the extra complexity, so we don’t bother.
  • But if you’re interested, here’s the drill: At Step 8, don’t add the cream to the soup. Rather, add it to a large bowl with a couple of egg yolks. Beat the cream and egg yolks together. Then beat spoonfuls of hot soup into the egg yolk/cream mixture a bit at a time. After you’ve added about a cup of soup, slowly and gradually stir in the rest. (You don’t want to add too much hot soup at one time, otherwise you’ll curdle the yolks.) Next, return the soup mixture to the cooking pot. Bring it just to the barest simmer, stirring all the while, and cook at a simmer for a minute or two until the egg yolks are poached. Garnish (if you wish) and serve.
  • BTW, if you haven’t diced the mushrooms finely enough and the soup has too much texture for your taste, just insert an immersion blender and give it a few spins to break up the mushrooms a bit. (But don’t overdo it—a bit of texture is nice in this soup.) Use an immersion blender with a stainless shaft—the plastic ones can crack when immersed in hot liquid. Ask us how we know.
Cream of Mushroom Soup in ramekin

Ladles of Fun

“Mmm, one of the best soups ever,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Cream of the crop.”

“Indeed,” I said. “It’s souper.”

“These puns are getting outrageous,” said Mrs K R. “I should cream you for that last one.”

“Yeah, we better stop,” I said. “They’re starting to mushroom.”

You may also enjoy reading about:
Celery and Bacon Chowder
Winter Squash, Corn, and Bacon Chowder
Moroccan Carrot Soup
Fennel Soup with Shrimp and Beans
Sweet Potato Soup with Chilies and Corn
Kale, Quinoa, and White Bean Soup
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill
Or check out the index for more recipes

118 comments:

  1. Great minds think alike! My version is next in the queue over at my blog. There is nothing better than this soup. Talk about food for the soul. This is it for me. Love your version.

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    1. Hi Karen, I'm looking forward to seeing your version of this soup! It's such good stuff, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  2. John, you need an award just for showing people that mushroom soup does not come from a can. Good job!

    Madonna

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    1. Hi Madonna, the canned stuff is just not worth it, IMO. The homemade stuff? Ambrosia! Thanks for the comment.

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  3. SO much better than canned! Creamy and perfect!

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    1. Hi Liz, homemade really rocks! One of my favorite soups. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. Cream of mushrooms is one of my fave winter soups... It is so umamilicious!

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    1. Hi Denise, one of my faves too! And your right about it being umamillicious! Great word. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. 'Starting to mushroom'..hilarious.
    This is a mushroom soup I can eat a lot of of. I agree with one of your comments, HOME MADE is the Best.

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    1. Hi Asha, we just can't resist those cheap puns. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. I'm a long time fan of cream of mushroom soup and I know that this is infinitely better than anything you can buy!

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    1. Hi Chris, cream of mushroom soup is so terrific, isn't it? We don't make it nearly often enough! Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I always make my own cream of chicken soup but never tried to make the mushroom one. I've had a bad experience with the canned one before and thought this is how it tasted!!!! Seems I was completely wrong and it is only the canned ones that tasted so bad. Gotta try this ASAP. Thanks for correcting me john:)

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    1. Hi Amira, homemade cream of mushroom soup is wonderful! The canned stuff is . . . an acquired taste. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. This soup is so rich and creamy and homemade! There's nothing better :)

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    1. Hi Dana, it really is nice and rich! And I agree there's nothing better. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. John, I enjoy the banter between you and Mrs. K R, but no more so than I would this lovely soup. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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    1. Hi Brooks, Mrs KR and I do enjoy ourselves. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Hi John , this is a must for the holidays and any other time . I bought some portabellas , now I know what I will do with them . Such gorgeous . rich and creamy soup . Thanks for sharing . :)

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    1. Hi Nee, don't portabellas have such nice flavor? Perfect in this soup! Thanks for the comment.

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  11. The cream of mushroom soup looks heavenly. It is my favorite soup in winters.Delightful!

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    1. Hi Ansh, definitely our favorite first course soup in the winter! Such great flavor. Thanks for the comment.

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  12. This looks delicious, it is a 4-star soup recipe! Thanks :)

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    1. Hi Pat, it is delish! Thanks for the comment.

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  13. See now this is one of the few reasons I like winter. Hearty soups like this that warms your bones aka does the job.

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    1. Hi Dawn, this definitely warms your bones! Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I grew up with the version that came out of a can -- you know, the condensed one that came out in one giant glop. LOL This looks infinitely better. I can practically taste that earthy mushroom flavor from here.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, I definitely remember that one giant glop! Kinda disgusting now that I think about it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Hi John, Oh my so yummy! Everything that is made homemade is so much better than that can for sure. I love cream of mushroom soup and yours looks so warm and inviting. Love the ingredients, and I agree you really can't skip the whole milk, with something like this you have to have the real stuff, or what is the sense of making it. You need to taste it the correct way, rich, thick and creamy but with some bites of the mushrooms. I would love to try this recipe especially when the weather is cold and nasty out like it is here on Long Island today. Thanks for sharing your information and this delicious recipe. Have a great rest of the week, say hello to Mrs. Riffs. Dottie :)

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    1. Hi Dottie, this is just the ticket for cold weather! Really nice and warming, and the flavor is outstanding. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. we absolutely heart cream of mushroom soup...this soup is a beauty...looks so perfect and is sure going to be a hit with everybody at home....superb recipe and excellent food clicks as always,thanks so much for inspiring :-)

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    1. Hi Kumar, we heart cream of mushroom soup too! Thanks for the comment.

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  17. Your soup looks perfectly delicious and I will be trying it soon. My husband really loves mushrooms. And I love making soups. Do people really eat the canned version as "soup"? I thought it was only used as an ingredient in casseroles. --Rocquie

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    1. Hi Rocquie, a long, long time ago people actually did eat it as soup! Nowadays more as an ingredient, I think. Or at least I hope. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. I agree, a bit of texture is good. And I also agree that choosing the right mushroom is important and one with a bit of depth like portobello is a good choice. The soup looks really comforting and warming and the shot looking down on the bowl is gorgeous. I made a creamy mushroom pasta last night - not the same as this but a lot of the same flavours xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, creamy mushroom pasta sounds delish! My kind of dish. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. Well, we finally got the snow as predicted here in central PA. Good thing I stocked up on groceries. And yes, I did buy a nice selection of mushrooms. I was {{{this}}} close to making Mushroom Soup today and backed out. You've recharged me with your soup and banter John. Marion is going to LOVE You and it!!!

    Thanks for sharing, John...

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    1. Hi Louise, glad I'll make Marion happy. And you too, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. John, this is absolutely divine!!! I haven't had good mushroom soup since my mother was alive... hers was great, yours sounds just as good! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Lizzy, you definitely need to make mushroom soup just to remember your mother! Thanks for the comment.

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  21. What is it about Cream of Mushroom soup that is so comforting? There are so many fabulous soups out there but it's cream of mushroom that is just the ultimate of goodness. Looking at all of these bowls of goodness is making me want to go out and buy a bunch of mushrooms tomorrow. I don't think I'll be satisfied until I make this soup!! Thank you so much John!!

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    1. Hi MJ, I agree this is a comforting soup! And it's also a soup people tend to order in restaurants -- but don't make at home. Weird. Anything, you definitely need to put mushrooms on your shopping list! Thanks for the comment.

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  22. What a beautiful cream of mushroom soup! Your photograph looks like a painting it is so pretty. I love how you commented to fry the onions until "limp" (and transparent) - so appropriate. You have encouraged me to buy some mushrooms on the way home for this delicious, wholesome soup. The family will be pleased :D

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    1. Hi Merryn, your family will indeed be pleased if you make this! It's a wonderful soup. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I can honestly say, I have NO IDEA what this would taste like! I have never had such a dish before in my life and I am not the biggest mushrooms fan, however I will trust your taste buds! ;)

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    1. Hi GiGi, you can definitely trust my taste buds! I wouldn't steer you wrong. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. Perfect starter indeed. We love mushroom soup and this creamy one is definitely a winner.

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    1. Hi Taruna, mushroom soup is one of my favorite starters. Unless, of course, I decide to eat it as a main dish. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. So, the only cream of mushroom soup I ever had was from a can - this one sounds and looks so so very much better than that glop out of a can! Thanks so much for this - this would indeed be a wonderful starter soup!

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    1. Hi Shashi, the canned one doesn't come close to a homemade cream of mushroom soup. Really, night and day. Thanks for the comment.

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  26. These days I have been feeling so uncreative with mushrooms. I love mushrooms but I think I over used them always in certain dishes only. Time for a change and since the temperatures have dropped even here, I will be looking forward to try your mushroom soup version. =)

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    1. Hi Helene, we use mushrooms all the time, too. But not too often in this soup, alas -- we need to make this more! Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Entertaining once more, John! Was just looking at the texture and consistency of the soup and I feel the warmth and comfort. Yum!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

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    1. Hi Julie & Alesah, glad you enjoyed it! It's a wonderful soup. Thanks for the comment.

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  28. Potage Velouté aux Champignons!! I love your photographs of this hearty but delicate looking mushroom soup! Yours is the prettiest looking soup I've seen in a long while:)

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    1. Hi Barb, isn't this a great soup? Loads of flavor. And I agree, it's really pretty! Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Mushroom soup is one of my favorites, great techniques and tips!

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    1. Hi Cheri, isn't this a great soup? So full of flavor! Thanks for the comment.

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  30. I agree - homemade makes you never want to go back to the canned stuff! It's so much better. Yours looks absolutely delicious.

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    1. Hi Ashley, nothing beats homemade soup. Nothing. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Homemade soups are the best! I made pureed carrot soup last night and it was crazy good.

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    1. Hi Laura, I love carrot soup! I'll bet yours was wonderful. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  32. I've been looking for just this kind of comfort lately! I will definitely be making this, John, especially since I'm not a huge fan of canned stuff. Cheerios, and stay warm/dry!

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    1. Hi Ala, you'll love this -- loads of flavor. No chocolate, though. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. I would never go to canned soup anyway. GAK! GAK! GAK! Now this cream of mushroom is simply marrrrrrvelous, Darling.

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    1. Hi Carol, it's indeed marrrrvelous. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. This soup just look fantastic John...so nicely presented...as always...I can almost taste the creaminess of it...nothing can neat homemade soup.
    Thanks for the recipe...hope you are having a wonderful week :)

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    1. Hi Juliana, homemade soup just rules, doesn't it? Can never get enough of that stuff! Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Oh, this looks so good! Mushroom soup is one of my favourites. I love to make and its the soup I order when I'm feeling like soup outside.
    I have everything I need and some portobellos that need using up, I think Im making soup tonight.

    Nazneen

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    1. Hi Nazneen, sounds like your family will hear those wonderful words, "soup's on!". ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  36. This soup just proves what I've always known, you're a Soup-a-man. GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, LOL! Soup-a-man indeed . :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  37. This sounds very good. Even though I still love that glop from a can a fresh homemade soup is always nice. It is interesting that you have success with adding hot stock to hot roux which runs counter to most sources. The text books would suggest cold (or cool) liquid slowly added to a hot roux with lots of whisking for the best result.

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    1. Hi Food Junkie, hot stock/hot roux works really well. Just need to keep the roux moving and all will be well. I know the CIA text says (or used to; my copy is back from the 90s) that it should be cold roux/hot stock or the reverse. But its competitor, by Wayne Glissen, said either works. And both James Beard (we really don't hear about him too much these days -- too bad!) and Julia Child have always been in the hot/hot camp. Anyway, good point that there isn't universal agreement on this point, and thanks for your comment.

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  38. i love making my own mushroom soup at home!

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    1. Hi Amy, isn't homemade so good? I love this soup! Thanks for the comment.

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  39. oh.... I have soooo many mushroom my dad collected this year! I'm dying to give this recipe a try!

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    1. Hi Marcela, you're lucky to have fresh, locally collected mushrooms! Bet they're delish. Perfect for this soup. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  40. Such a classic, I love making my own mushroom soup.

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    1. Hi Caroline, this really is a classic. So good! Thanks for the comment.

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  41. This recipe came at the perfect time! I have a lot of mushrooms in my refrigerator that need to be used up ASAP! Thanks John!!

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    1. Hi Kristi, those mushrooms are going to make a great soup. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  42. Mushroom soup is one of my very favorite soups. The flavor you get from making it at home is superior to anything you can buy.

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    1. Hi Maureen, one of my favorites, too. I can't believe I haven't made this is so long! Thanks for the comment.

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  43. Damn delicious and comforting meals!!!
    what a coinsidence, i just finished my cepes or porcini mushrooms soup too....

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    1. Hi Dedy, great minds! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  44. Creamy, hearty, and rich in flavors, that is my kind of soup. This is perfect for this colder weather we are having these days. Must taste really delicious, John. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Ray, isn't this nice? And I'm glad you're finally getting some cooler weather -- much be a nice change! Thanks for the comment.

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  45. There is nothing better than a warm, comforting soup like this with rich mushroom flavor.
    No comparison with the canned stuff, thanks for a great post, John!

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    1. Hi Daniela, isn't this nice? Such a great soup! Thanks for the comment.

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  46. Nothing beats homemade soup, and this one looks great. I would never go back to store-bought!

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    1. HI Beth, this is a wonderful soup! Far, far better than what one finds in the can. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  47. Your soup looks delicious, John! I used to hate cream of mushroom soup until I tried homemade and now i enjoy it a lot!

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    1. Hi Amy, I always hated the canned stuff as a soup (although sometimes use it as an ingredient in a casserole). But homemade is wonderful! Thanks for the comment.

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  48. So creamy, deliciously mushroomy, extremely comforting and simply fantastic!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, simple often is fantastic, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  49. It is indeed a "souper" soup. It's been ages since I've made it so thank you for reminding me how delicious this soup is. I'll make it this week for sure.

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    1. Hi Mireya, isn't this nice? I hadn't made this for ages, for some reason, but so glad I did. I'll be making it again soon! Thanks for the comment.

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  50. Replies
    1. Hi Raymund, this is worth being a favorite! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  51. This reminds me of the new year's eve that I made mushroom soup. We started with that and champagne and it was a long time ago. Yes, we still talk about it. Are you trying to help me plan my dinner? Thanks for this, John! It is souper!

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    1. Hi Abbe, that must have been a souper dinner! ;-) You need to make mushroom soup again -- it's wonderful isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  52. I'm so into soup the last few months and I love a creamy mushroom soup that is made from scratch! Looks perfect!

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    1. Hi Peachy, we eat a lot of soup,particularly during the cooler months. This is one of the best ones we've had in quite some time! Really good stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  53. What a great soup! We are huge fans of mushroom soup and I've tried many, but I think your recipe is a must try. With all the holiday cooking and baking, a meal of this would be pure bliss. Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Hi Pam, mushroom soup has terrific flavor, doesn't it? Never met a mushroom soup I didn't like! Thanks for the comment.

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  54. I can't tell you the last time I bought a can of mushroom soup, John. The problem is that I don't prepare it, either. It is, however, the only soup I order when out for lunch or dinner. I love it but have never thought to try to make it. Your recipe is not only easy to prepare but the flavors sounds fantastic and you've explained its preparation very well. Thanks for sharing another top notch recipe, John. I cannot wait to give it a try.

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    1. Hi John, this really is an easy soup to prepare, and its flavors are fantastic! The stuff in the can isn't even in the same universe when it comes to flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  55. French or not, your soup looks splendid! Cream of Mushroom Soup has always been one of my favorite soups, even as a kid and your recipe looks fantastic! This is one of winter's perfect meals.

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    1. Hi Jamie, this really is one of winter's perfect meals! Such good stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  56. I'm so behind on my blog reading, but wanted to stop in and wish you and your family a wonderful Holiday season. And this soup looks incredible. I love that mushroom in the middle of the bowl and the little wreath of parsley. Pinning this one.

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    1. Hi Lea Ann, you've had a lot of your plate lately! Anyway, I hope you're having a terrific holiday season, too, and thanks for the comment.

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  57. Replies
    1. Hi Mary Frances, it is, it is! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  58. Now this is delicious and creamy. Ummm, I had a bowl of what they said was cream of mushroom soup on the plane and lets just say that yours looks posh and theirs, not so much. This recipe could also used as a base for so many other recipes. Love it. Take Care, BAM

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    1. Hi Bam, you're right that this soup really is the base of a lot of other recipes. Just like the canned soup! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  59. I had no idea that mushrooms could become one of my favorite ingredients among all the food while growing up. Now I love mushrooms in all kinds of food and definitely love this soup VERY much!!! Great starter. I can eat mushrooms as a main too. ;)

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    1. Hi Nami, we rarely had mushrooms when I was young, so I never developed a taste. But now I've made up for lost time! They're wonderful, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.

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