Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 11, 2008

Tweaking Cream of Mushroom Soup

Filed under: Food & Recipes,Tips — Punchinello @ 10:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

Watching people cook, I see a whole lot of folks who believe that whatever the recipe says, that’s what you have to do! But think about it: Anyone who created a can of soup, frozen dinner, or any other recipe is basically offering you a way to eat good stuff. A can of soup is just a starting point. You’re allowed, you know, to mess with it.

A basic can of cream of mushroom soup is pretty good. But they say you can add water and be done with it. Did you know that “milk” used to be quite different from what we buy today? Modern regular milk has been so watered down, it’s almost white water.

Instead of using milk, use half-and-half. That’s got enough cream in it to make it more like the milk we used in the old days. Try making some boil-and-cook chocolate pudding with half-and-half, and you’ll end up with much richer, much better-tasting, smoother batch of pudding. Same with creamed soups.

Empty the contents into a pot, then fill the can about 3/4 with half-and-half. Top it off with a tasty, good quality white wine along the lines of chablis. The complexities of wine are so unique that it always adds a superb flavor to sauces and soups.

Baby Bella mushrooms are just that: baby portabello mushrooms. They’re pretty inexpensive, at around $1.99 or so for a typical 8oz package. They’re also more firm and have more flavor than plain old white mushrooms.

Set aside about 5 mushrooms from a package you buy to use for something else. When you’re ready to make your cream of mushroom soup, get rid of the stems and chop up the five mushrooms. Make them chunks that’ll easily fit into a spoonful of soup.

Toss those into the pot. Bring it to a boil, the reduce it to simmer for a bit. It’ll thicken up somewhat, and it’s ready to eat. The soup is basically cooked anway, you’re just warming up the mushrooms and allowing the half-and-half along with the wine to blend, plus cooking off the alcohol.

One of the things I like is Morton’s “Nature’s Seasons.” It’s like a seasoning salt, and useful for all kinds of things. Sprinkle some into the soup and it’ll draw out even more flavors.

Update: I was at a super-Walmart the other day and ran across a small can of shitake mushrooms. I’ve actually seen them around before, distributed by Polar. Added those into a can of standard cream of mushroom soup, and Holy Cow! Was THAT good!

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