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ski out ski in

Recipe: cream of mushroom soup

Happy new year, my butterlings! I hope you all rang in 2013 in various fabulous ways. We kept it low-key partly because we were tired from a day of ski touring and mostly because we are boring. I like it that way.

snow on new year’s eve

lovely wondrous sparkling flakes of snow

It snowed here on New Year’s Eve and not just any snow, but the kind that falls as giant fluffy flakes and doesn’t stick to anything because it’s so dry and cold. They sparkled in the sunlight like diamonds falling from the sky and when you looked at the ground you could see perfectly preserved crystals glistening back at you, winking. Piles of delicate snowflakes slid over my skis as I glided along the trail through the woods. Jeremy and I would seek out pockets of deep snow and whoop and holler diving into the sugary stashes.

skiing out: a great way to see 2012 off

skiing into 2013 on new year’s day

I don’t typically make resolutions on the new year, but over the holidays I spent a little more time away from the interwebz and it was fantastic. It’s a good thing to assess where and more importantly how your time is invested. So that may be one of the things I change up… stepping away more often from the whole navel-gazing vortex of social media and taking that time to concentrate on other things, like my well-being. Who knows. I’m still feeling 2013 out, but I think I’m headed in the right direction. That direction also includes soup, because it’s winter and soup is good food – particularly when you make it yourself.

criminis, dried porcinis, shitakes, onion, butter, garlic, white pepper, salt, herbs, cashews, chicken broth

thyme and sage

I foraged a good deal of porcinis this past summer with my friend, Wendy. I told her to keep most of those mushrooms because I just didn’t have the time to deal with them and the worst possible thing you could do after acquiring such precious forage is to let them go bad, go to waste. Wendy is a real champ and she immediately processed untold quantities of the summer porcini harvest and presented me with a couple of jars of dried porcinis this fall… our porcinis! Sure you can purchase dried porcinis in the store, but can you hold a jar of your summer spent clambering along the wooded slopes of the mountains, popping huckleberries into your mouth as you scour the ground for porcinis?

dried porcinis

rehydrate with boiling water

I waited until winter to use my porcinis, when I knew the aroma would be most welcome after a day of backcountry ski touring. If you’ve never used dried porcini mushrooms, you should know that the soaking liquid is not to be discarded, ever. That soaking liquid is also known as liquid gold. It’s a heady broth with the concentrated essence of porcinis, this lovely umami. So make sure you keep that.

sliced garlic and onion

garlic, onion, porcini broth, porcinis, sliced fresh shitakes, sliced fresh criminis

Mushroom soups can be these wholly satisfying, hearty, creamy, deeply earthy meals. Whenever I see mushroom soups on a menu, I’m tempted to the point of distraction. Some are more cream than mushroom, but I prefer those that are more mushroom than cream. Instead of white button mushrooms, I used criminis to get more flavor with the bulk. Use what works best for you.

sauté the herbs

cook the onions and garlic until translucent

add the mushrooms

and the porcini liquid

My biggest issue with creamy mushroom soups is the cream, because it upsets my stomach – like majorly. After seeing several friends of mine use cashew cream as a vegan substitution for dairy cream, I decided to give it a try, for my tummy’s sake and probably also for my ass reduction plan. Why not?

raw cashews and water

blender the mess out of it until it is smooth and creamy

Obviously, if you have a nut allergy, this substitution is not for you. I have to say that it doesn’t have a strong flavor and it’s really quite nice. It blended in beautifully with the soup and you’d never really know the difference! I puréed the soup with my immersion blender. I love my immersion blender and here’s why – because when I use my immersion blender I don’t have to worry about burning myself with hot soup exploding from my crappy old blender, nor do I have to clean soup off the walls, ceiling, floor, and appliances in my kitchen.

adding cashew cream

the immersion blender makes quick work of the purée

This is a delightful soup with plenty of options to make it vegetarian, vegan, or more meaty (use beef broth instead of chicken broth, hello!). I followed Deb’s lead and used thyme in place of rosemary because I prefer the flavor, but do what suits your tastes. I set aside a few shitake slices and sage leaves to fry in butter for the garnish. The fried sage leaves are a perfect crunchy accent. And when I taste the creamy mushroom soup, I look forward to the next porcini season.

cream of mushroom soup

rich and thick and mushroomy

Cream of Mushroom Soup
[print recipe]
modified from Smitten Kitchen

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
3 tbsps olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme (original recipe calls for rosemary)
4 sprigs fresh sage
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsps salt
freshly ground white pepper
1 lb. fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 lb. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to make this vegetarian)
1 cup heavy cream or 1 cup cashew cream
2 tbsps butter

cashew cream
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water

Make cashew cream (if not using cream): Place the cashews and water in a blender and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Yields about a cup.

Make the soup: Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in a cup of boiling hot water for 20-30 minutes. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter or a fine-meshed sieve and reserve the liquid as well as the re-hydrated mushrooms. Set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Tie the herbs in a bundle with kitchen string or twine (something food-safe) and sauté them in the hot oil until wilted. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and white pepper to the oil and sauté until the onions are translucent. Turn the heat up to high and add the crimini and shitake mushrooms. Let this cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally as the liquid bubbles off. Add the chicken stock, porcini mushrooms, and the porcini liquid. Let the soup come to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bundle of herbs. Stir the cream and butter into the soup. Using an immersion blender, purée the contents of the soup until smooth. Alternatively, you can ladle the soup into a blender and purée the soup in small batches – but I recommend letting the soup cool quite a bit before doing so and not overfilling the blender because explosive accidents can (and do) happen, which is why I now own an immersion blender. Serves 6-8.

30 nibbles at “ski out ski in”

  1. irenalana says:

    Beautiful snowy pictures. I almost envy you for having all that snow. Here where I live I only see snow far away on mountains top. Soup looks delicious too

  2. Ann says:

    This soup sounds excellent, particularly with the substitution of cashew cream for the dairy cream – I am not a fan of cream in soups either, but I think cashew cream in this one would be something to smile about. Something I learned from Sarah B on is to soak the cashews in water for 4 hours or longer (overnight) – the blending is super easy and leads to a creamy texture that really is like the dairy version. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration in your blog!

  3. Kristin says:

    I love how you embrace the boring! I discovered this past summer that I am lactose intolerant and, though lactase seems to work most of the time, I might just have to give this cashew milk a try. Wouldn’t hurt my ARP either. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This soup sounds awesome! Love how pretty it turned out :)

  5. kelley {mountain mama cooks} says:

    Looks like a beautiful day for a ski tour. We had our fair share of snow over Christmas and it was the best way to spend the week off! Happy New Year to you and here’s to more snow!!!

  6. Melissa says:

    I am all for stepping away from blogging and networking. ;) As for social connection, though, I was very immersed online in 2012 and probably will continue to be for some time, particularly with my tumblr running community, but I am learning about balance. I take much more time these days to do puzzles, read, nap, or just sit with Steve and a mug of coffee and chat. I know you’ll do whatever is good for your mind and spirit as well. Happy New Year, my dear friend!

  7. Caterina B says:

    Yum! And thanks for calling us “butterlings.” I must tell hubby that only then he will call me that all the time…because……yes, I always use real butter!
    This recipe sounds wonderful. I will get some mushrooms the next time I go to that big natural food store we all love. Just went there yesterday, in Basalt.

  8. Stephus says:

    Happy New Year to you, Jeremy, and Kaweah!

    I was JUST perusing creamy mushroom soup recipes and settled on trying the Smitten Kitchen one. How did this compare with your Creamy Mushroom soup with Sherry and Thyme? I like how you only pureed half of that soup, to leave those lovely chunky chewy bits behind.

  9. Natalie says:

    This looks perfect! I love a really nice mushroom soup!

  10. April was in CTnowCA says:

    I can’t tell you enough how much I love the term butterlings.

    Oh, this soup…this soup!! If only my better half didn’t loathe mushrooms (hey, we all have our flaws). I am so in love with this soup.

  11. Stefanie says:

    hi – i’ll have to try the cashew cream method, my ass certainly needs reducing! :)

  12. Hande says:

    Not only did I love this soup, but also the fact that you managed to have a paragraph where all 4 lines started with “mushroom”. :)

  13. Nan says:

    Love mushrooms! This sounds delish.. That said, my immersion blender is 21 years old. It was a Christmas gift from my husband and it has been used at least once a week since it’s initial appearance in my kitchen way back when. I’ve always wondered why it took so long to really catch on? It’s a mystery because I can’t imagine my kitchen without my trusty little blender. It was my secret culinary weapon that is no longer a secret!

  14. Jill says:

    We are boring on NYE too, and like it that way. Soup looks delish. Happy 2013, and cheers to your well being! Butterling, jill

  15. Kurt Jacobson says:

    I agree with you on the creamy thing. Most restaurant versions of cream of mushroom soup seem to try and out do each other on how much cream they can get into the soup. I live close to the mushroom capital of the world,(Kennett Square, PA) and have been working up a bunch of mushroom recipes from the goods I bring back from there. My latest mushroom soup used just a half cup of 2% milk, but I can’t wait to try the cashew method you used since I’ve been cutting way back on my dairy consumption the last couple years.
    I also like the idea of putting some of my dried porcinis in the next test batch to see what that does to it.
    One question I have for you is, I have always found that fresh herbs are best when added at the end of the cooking process. With your recipe do the herbs not lose most of their flavor by cooking them at the beginning?

  16. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I love being a “butterling”…

    just sayin…

  17. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    That is -a lot- of mushroom flavor. Love it!! I need to get my hands on some dried porcinis.

  18. Sue Herrmann says:

    Sounds like a very yummy soup. I also liked the story of how you got your porcini mushrooms.

    I recently got wild porcini mushrooms from my farmer’ s market store and I knew that I needn’t to use them fast if I wanted to use them fresh, but I didn’t have a immediate use, so I rough cut them, and put them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Later, I stored them in a freezer bag. Last week I thawed them and chopped them for a risotto and they tasted like the fresh ‘shroom.

    I thought you might find them useful next year when you go mushroom collecting.

    Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and pictures. They lift my spirits!

  19. Alexsandra says:

    Today I thank the Earth for you – you are down to earth and yet out of this world, thank you for the inspiration, the mini vakays I take each time I read your blog, your wicked smart sense of humor, your pioneer sense of adventure and for sharing all that divine-ness with us! May 2013 be stellar. Cheers.

  20. Carl says:

    Boring? Boring?????!!!!!?????!!!!! You don’t know the meaning of the word until you meet me.

  21. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up says:

    I never knew of the cashew cream before. That is a great option!

  22. Laura says:

    Beautiful photos! We haven’t seen any snow here yet, and I’m yearning for it. I’m also now yearning for this mushroom soup as well. It looks absolutely delicious!

  23. Kathy says:

    Your blog is so inspiring! Being both a Colorado and Foodie fan, I live vicariously thru it. And you are FAR from Boring. Best wishes for the New Year!

  24. Andrea says:

    Wow! I was just trying to think of a way to make non-dairy cream of mushroom soup earlier today. Thank you for sharing this method!

  25. jenyu says:

    Ann – yes, I’ve heard of doing this too. Maybe if I can plan that far ahead, I’ll give it a try :)

    Kristin – yeah, I was skeptical at first, but it’s really easy and pretty awesome.

    kelley – thanks and same to you!

    Melissa – awww, happy new year, friend. I think it’s important for everyone to find their way <3

    Caterina - hee hee :)

    Stephus - I liked this one better than the soup with sherry and thyme. You could conceivably purée only half of the mushrooms in this one too. It's all good!

    Hande - ha! I should have you edit my posts!

    Nan - I love mine too. And the cleanup is so easy!

    Jill - thank you, happy new year, dear Jill.

    Kurt - I think the herbs are mainly used for flavoring the oil. They are eventually discarded from the soup entirely, so I don't think their purpose was to be blendered in.

    RMW - xo

    Brandon - it's wonderful!

    Sue - thanks for that tip. We may try it!

    Alexsandra - you're a dear. Thank you for your sweet comment and happy 2013 to you xo

    Carl - it's all relative.

    Kathy - thanks and happy new year to you!

  26. TJ says:

    Hi Jen!

    I came back from my 3-week trip to Thailand and your blog was the first one I wanted to check. I’ve been looking for a healthy yet creamy mushroom soup for a month and now I found one! Will definitely try this one! It’s so inspiring to me that you manage to post often despite having another full-time job, traveling around and enjoying life to the fullest! You are my foodie role model! :)

    Looking forward to another year of userealbutter! Cheers!

    TJ from Beijing-

  27. Cream of Mushroom Soup | Lolly's Sweet & Savory Treats says:

    […] Adapted from Use Real Butter Share this:FacebookPinterestTwitterStumbleUponRedditEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  28. Tammy says:

    Just want to say this blog is my favourite recipe site, your instructions are really clear and easy to follow and I enjoy your pictures too! :) I wish I can cook like you!

  29. Soup, soup, and more soup | Stilettos and Shotguns says:

    […] a completely random turn of events I came across this original recipe and my mind was blown!  I tried using the cashew “cream” in place of heavy cream.  […]

  30. Eric Florea says:

    What a great looking recipe! I can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

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