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What's in this soup?


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One of my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurants has a mushroom soup that my husband and I really, really like. I've resorted to just short of committing a felony to get my hands on the recipe, and while I've not yet been successful, I have learned quite a lot about what's in it.

Someone once told me that only button mushrooms are used--no others.

I have also learned that the other ingredients are a commercial "mushroom soup base" plus mushrooms, heavy cream, and "a little white wine."

That description very much fits what I've gathered from tasting and from stirring through the soup and trying to see what I can identify. The mushrooms are sliced thinly and are cooked until all their water is evaporated.

I'm willing to do a bit of experimentation to achieve something close to what they serve, but I need to know more about this mushroom soup base. Anybody have any ideas or information? Does it sound like something you buy, or something available for you to buy? My preference would be to be able to make the entire soup from scratch, but if I have to purchase a commercial product, well then, I will.

I realize this is a touchy subject for some, because chefs closely guard certain recipes, and for good reason. Let me say, for the record, that it is not just the soup that brings us back, again and again, to this restaurant. They have many dishes that we crave. If I'm able to replicate this recipe at home, I guarantee it won't result in fewer visits to this establishment. It's one of the few restaurants in town in which I have trouble deciding what to order, not because I like only a couple of things on the menu, but because choosing one item means not choosing another. Their food really is excellent and we are regulars.

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I am posting this recipe because it might be a starting point for you. This is a family favorite that I developed some years ago from a starting point that I read somewhere. It probably isn't all that close to what you have had but some of the principles are in there. For instance, the mushrooms are sweated down to produce their own liquid. I seem to think that I have seen "mushroom base" mentioned somewhere. I am wondering what that would do to this recipe instead of the chicken base. I certainly hope we find it. That could be a valuable pantry item.

Mushroom Soup

4 Tbs butter

1 cup minced shallots

4 large garlic cloves, minced

2 lbs. mushrooms, sliced

1 Tbs flour (Wondra works well to prevent lumps but you can use all purpose)

4 tsp chicken base (Knorr is good)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

Several dashes Maggi (that little brown bottle of stuff)

2 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces grated cheese (smoked gouda is the favorite, gouda or jack will also work)

In a heavy pot, sauté shallots in the butter until soft. Add garlic and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes longer.

Put the mushrooms in the pot. Stir around to distribute shallots and garlic. Cover and cook on low heat until mushrooms are tender and juices are released.

Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and stir to distribute to prevent lumping. Add remaining ingredients and simmer gently 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted. Do not boil and stir frequently.


This is a rich soup and is best served with salad and good bread for a “light” meal.

Feel free to vary the herbs to your taste.

I typically make it with the common button mushrooms but you can substitute others to your taste. Since you need 2 pounds, using all “exotic” mushrooms would be pretty pricey and probably not worth it. Do get fresh mushrooms that have not developed dark gills. I did that once with mushrooms that were on sale because they had started to open their caps and develop the spores. It tasted fine but had an ugly brownish purple color. Stay away from Portobellos for the same reason.

If you buy the Maggi seasoning just for this recipe, don’t shove it to the back of your spice shelf. Use it up adding a few dashes to a simple vinaigrette. Surprising but smashing. You can also add it to other soups and stews. Who would guess that this stuff is very common in traditional Mexican cooking?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I am posting this recipe because it might be a starting point for you. This is a family favorite that I developed some years ago from a starting point that I read somewhere. It probably isn't all that close to what you have had but some of the principles are in there

Thanks for the recipe! It looks really good, even if it isn't exactly the same. We may even like this better...

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You might want to see if you can find:

this product

It's a great flavor base. I use a tablespoon of mushroom base whenever I make stew: it adds richness.

Good tip. I get the beef and chicken at my local Randall's but I haven't seen the mushroom. I will have to ask the store manager to get it. This stuff is my go to "cheater" when I am out of homemade stock concentrate.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook has a deceptively good recipe for a mushroom soup.

I say it's deceptive because I didn't really expect it to be as good as it turned out given the ease of preparation and relatively common ingredients used. Only button mushrooms are used. However, the result has a solid mushroom flavor.

Bourdain's soup is pureed, which I believe is different from what you describe. But if you like mushroom soups, you might want to look this one up.

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A duxelle would due nicely for a base for a mushroom soup. Here is a simple recipe.

1 cup diced yellow onions

3 tablespoons butter

2/3 pound shiitakes, stemmed and sliced thinly

1/3 pound creminis, 1/2 thinly sliced, 1/2 fine diced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 ounces milk

1/2 cup mild white cheese, mozzarella or provolone, shredded

In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sweat the onion. Add all the mushrooms and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add the milk and reduce by half. Add the provolone and melt. The consistency we're looking for is similar to that of a potpie.

This will come out sort of chunky, so for your soup you might want to puree it, then build off of there

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I save all my mushroom stems in a bag in the freezer. Once a year, after I've accumulated a sizable amount, it place them in a stock pot with water and a couple of thyme sprigs and turn them into mushroom stock. I use the stock as base for mushroom barley soup and cream of mushroom soup.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The product that Foodie 52 mentioned is what I would suggest. They have a Mushroom Base that is very good. I can get it locally at Central Market along with Ham, Veg, Beef and Chicken along with perhaps 2 others that I can't remember. I'm sure if you can get any flavor then they should be able to get you some others. Kay

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  • 2 weeks later...
Most restaurant supply places sell it.  I buy mine from www.rlschreiber.com or check www.thespicehouse.com

Also try www.soupbase.com they have almost any type of soup base you ever could want!

Living hard will take its toll...
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I did find the Better then Boullion mushroom base locally. We spent all of last week without power due to an ice storm (interior house temperature: 37 degrees, yes, it was horrible) and I spent this week recuperating from a nasty fall in a dark house.

Well, thank God that's over.

I think it's going to be a mushroom soup weekend! Thanks to all who have had suggestions, and feel free to add more if you have them.

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I can't remember where I got this recipe but I think it's a combination of a few different recipes that I played with until I got what I liked. I use dried Shitake and Porcini mushrooms as my sliced and Crimini as my diced. I also use half stock and half soaking water from the dried mushrooms rather than all stock. Very mushroomy, very rich.

Mushroom Bisque

3 cups of mushrooms sliced

1 cup mushroom small diced

½ cup shallot, finely chopped

½ cup unsalted butter

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons flour

½ tablespoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ cup dry sherry

Brie, sliced

Parsley for garnish

Combine flour, mustard, salt, white pepper and set aside. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped mushroom and shallot and sauté until mushrooms are nicely browned and shallot is translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until moisture is cooked off. Sprinkle in flour mixture over mushrooms stirring constantly for one minute. Flour should not brown or burn. Add broth and cook uncovered stirring frequently until mixture thickens. Gradually stir in whipping cream and then heavy cream. Heat thoroughly but do not boil. Stir in sherry just before serving and garnish with small, thin slice of Brie (rind on) and sprig of parsley.



My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography


My music: Coronado Big Band

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Wonderful news! Earlier this week, I made Bourdain's mushroom soup recipe from the Les Halles cookbook. It is very, very close to the recipe I've been looking for. After reading the recipes offered here, I can tell that all I'll have to do to morph it into what I've been looking for, is to reserve some sliced mushrooms before pureeing, use a little white wine instead of sherry, and add some cream.

Thanks to those who contributed to my education :biggrin: and recipe file. And if you haven't tried the recipe from the Les Halles cookbook, believe me, it's not to be missed.

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