This creamy mushroom medley soup is made with an assortment of portobello, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms. While the soup texture screams creamy due to the addition of chickpeas, you will not miss the ton of butter or cream used in the traditional cream of mushroom (or any vegetable) soup.
Mushroom, which is a fungus rather than a true vegetable, isn't very popular in India--at least at the time I was growing up. In fact, my mom never ever cooked with mushrooms. It took me a long time to appreciate its woodsy flavor and meaty texture. In fact, I remember that the dish that made me a mushroom fan (a long time ago) was cream of wild mushroom soup. However, I always felt uncomfortable adding dairy to a savory soup dish. Maybe it is the influence of Ayurveda, which considers milk and salt combination to be TOXIC. But it's super easy to make soups creamy without adding any cream or milk --read on to find out what I have added to this creamy mushroom medley soup.
Mushrooms offer immunity-boosting benefits and umami flavor
Mushrooms are one of the few sources of essential mineral selenium, which helps prevent cell damage and boosts immunity. In fact, this antioxidant is found in very few food ingredients. Additionally, mushrooms offer higher protein per serving compared to other vegetables (even if it is not a vegetable).
Mushroom is also one of the few food ingredients that naturally offers umami flavor. Umami is the fifth and last flavor after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Originating from the Japanese word "umai," which translates to "delicious," umami flavor is characterized by savory, meaty flavor. Scientists attribute this flavor to the high levels of the amino acid glutamate, which is a building block of protein. Umami is considered flavor enhancer: the more umami present in a dish, the more flavorful it is. The umami in mushroom is the reason that you don't need to add a lot of salt to mushroom dishes.
Let's make the creamy mushroom medley soup
Mushroom medley: A medley of mushrooms--portobello, cremini, and shiitake, ensures that this soup gets a rounded flavor profile unique to the each types of mushrooms used in this soup. For example, shiitake mushrooms tend to have higher notes of umami and are more aromatic and sweeter than other two types of mushrooms. You can definitely try other types of mushrooms in the mix.
Should you wash or wipe clean mushrooms? This is a source of confusion as you have probably seen many chefs on cooking shows suggest to wipe clean mushrooms. However, many celebrity chefs, including Alton Brown, propound that it's alright to wash mushrooms before cooking. If you are interested in finding more about this, do read THIS funny article on Good Eats fan page. So it would seem that it's ok to either wipe or wash mushrooms before cooking. I personally like to wipe them clean.
How is this soup so creamy? You have probably come across this tip in most soup recipes on TLC. I almost feel like a broken record, but I will still repeat it. Mixing salt and dairy is considered highly undesirable by Ayurvedic tradition. Even if you don't feel any negative side effects, in my opinion, it robs the soup of the energy it is supposed to provide. Try using neutral flavor beans such as chick peas, navy beans, or cannellini beans. You can also add nuts, in small amounts, that complement the flavor of the soup. For example, almonds complement the flavor of many types of mushrooms. For a nut-free version, you can add pumpkin seeds.
What type of broth is best for mushroom soup? Often times mushroom broth is recommended for mushroom based soups or gravies. I almost never buy mushroom broth because I have not been able to find a low-sodium version. Also, in the interest of keeping the pantry not overstocked, I often use Easy Homemade Vegetable Broth for all of my cooking needs, except when I make oriental-style soups like this Tasty Vegan Ramen. For that my go-to broth is Asian Vegetable Broth. When I am busy and don't have time to make weekly broth, my go-to brand is Pacific Foods low-sodium, vegetable broth. Remember, a good broth brings a big smile to your soup.
Meal plan the creamy mushroom medley soup
Whenever you bring mushrooms from grocery stores, it is best to cook them as soon as possible as they tend to lose moisture and start reeking if left too long in refrigerator's veggies box. However, once you have cooked them into this creamy mushroom medley soup, you can enjoy this soup for 3-4 days. Just store in an airtight container in refrigerator and reheat in a pot with 1-2 tbsp of water in an appropriate-size pot over medium heat. I haven't done it yet, but you could also freeze this soup for up to three weeks. Just thaw overnight and reheat. Enjoy!
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If you make this recipe, do let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.
Creamy Mushroom Medley Soup
- 1 tsp avocado oil*
- 1 white onion (~1 cup chopped, can sub with any other vareity of onion)
- 1 clove garlic (finely minced)
- 1/2 tsp salt (Himalayan Pink Salt used in this recipe, no more than 3/4 tsp)
- 2 tbsp water (as needed)
- 1 stalk celery (finely chopped)
- 3 portobello mushrooms (~9 oz, de-stemmed, wiped clean with a paper towel and roughly chopped)
- 8 cremini mushrooms (~4 oz, de-stemmed, wiped clean and roughly chopped)
- 8 shiitake mushrooms (~4 oz, de-stemmed, wiped clean and roughly chopped)
- 1/3 cup chick peas (or sub with equal amount navy or cannellini beans)
- 2 tbsp almonds (soaked at least for 3 hours and peeled, optional)
- 2 tsp fresh thyme (~ 2 sprigs, or sub with 1/2 tsp dry)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp low-sodium tamari (or use low-sodium soy sauce)
- 2.5 cups homemade vegetable broth (or sub with equal amount store-bought low-sodium broth)
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (lightly toasted, for garnish, can sub with slivered, lightly toasted almonds)
- Start out by wiping the mushrooms clean with a wet, clean cloth or paper towel. Cut the stems off and save for later to add to vegetable broth.
- Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottom soup pot. Add onions and garlic and 1/4 tsp of salt and let it cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. If onions start to dry out, add one tbsp of water and keep stirring. Once onions are semi cooked and translucent, add celery and cook for another 4-5 minutes. If the veggies start to dry out, add another tbsp of water.
- Once the celery is soft, add the medley of mushrooms with the remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, until mushrooms have lost some volume and moisture. Add chick peas, peeled almonds (if using), nutritional yeast, tamari (or soy sauce), and fresh thyme (or dry). Give the whole veggie, bean, nut, and flavoring ingredients a stir or two. Add the vegetable broth and bring the soup to a gentle boil over medium heat (~10 minutes). To expedite the process, partially cover the pot with a lid.
- Once the soup has come to a gentle boil, bring the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer for about 10-12 minutes. Take the pot off the stove and let the soup cool to room temperature.
- Use a blender to blend until you get a creamy soup (~60-90 seconds). Garnish with lightly toasted pumpkin seeds (or almonds). Enjoy!