Cream of mushroom soup has got to be my favourite of soups. It's so delicious and earthy, and sipping a warm mugful on a rainy day where the sky matches the colour of this soup (we had a downpour while I was testing this recipe), is the epitome of how it's the little things in life that really are so great.
Mushroom soup is super easy to make from scratch, and requires only a few simple ingredients - mushrooms, veggie stock, onions, garlic, some fresh herbs and a cream of sorts - to produce something really magic. Here I've shared two versions that cater to that last ingredient - one's a vegan-friendly option that uses a nut-base cashew cream, while the other uses the traditional fresh dairy cream. Cashew cream is basically soaked cashews that have been blended together with water until perfectly smooth, producing a lovely and thick cream-like sauce. It's a popular condiment in vegan cuisine, often used to replace dairy cream, whether that be sweetened in desserts, or as a savoury dollop on top of nachos. As a cream replacement in soup it really adds a nice richness and depth. Alternatively you can also use fresh cream, which is traditionally used when making cream of mushroom soup - both versions and quantities have been included below.
Lets talk about mushrooms! They're a wonderfully versatile ingredient in the kitchen, and are also super nutritious. They're a great source of five of the eight B-vitamins, which are important for extracting energy from the foods we eat. B-vitamins are water-soluble, meaning the're not stored in our body and so it's important to consume sources daily. Mushrooms are also the richest source of selenium in the produce department, an important antioxidant that helps our body fight damaging free-radicals in the body - around 1 cup of mushrooms will provide 1/3 of our daily selenium needs. The white-button mushrooms I used in this soup are from a wonderful local kiwi company called Meadow Mushrooms, who take their mushrooms seriously - check out their website for more nutritional information and great recipes that use mushrooms.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 brown onion
2 garlic cloves
650g white button mushrooms
1 tbsp oil
1.25L vegetable stock
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup raw cashews + 1 cup of water (vegan-friendly) OR 100ml cream
Salt and pepper, to season
1. If you're preparing the vegan friendly version, place cashews into a bowl and pour over cold water until the cashews are covered. Leave them to soak for 30 minutes.
2. Peel and slice onion into half moons. Peel and roughly chop garlic.
3. Wash mushrooms. Finely slice.
4. Heat the oil in a soup pot over a medium-low heat. Saute onions and garlic for five minutes, or until the onions are soft and clear.
5. Add the mushrooms and saute for another five minutes - the mushrooms should have shrunken in size.
6. Pour in the vegetable stock. Add a little extra water if needed to cover the mushrooms. Add your sprigs of thyme. Mix altogether.
7. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Turn the heat off and let the soup cool. Blend in batches in a food processor, or blend using a stick blender - blend, blend, blend until the soup is perfectly smooth! Return soup back to the soup pot. Season with a few twists of both the salt and pepper shaker.
9. If making the vegan-friendly version, blend cashews with water until you've created a super smooth cashew cream. Pour into the soup and mix well - you can reserve a little cream if you'd like for a garnish. Otherwise if making the non-vegan friendly, then pour cream into soup and mix well. Taste test and adjust seasoning if needed.