A deliciously rich and savoury vegan mushroom soup, with a deep porcini flavour, garlic, fresh herbs and chunks of juicy fresh mushrooms.
I've been blogging a long time now, (10 years in fact!), and my first post of each year is usually along the lines of "whoop whoop, happy new year everyone, how exciting, what are your plans for the year?", blah blah blah.
But just five days in and 2021 is already pretty different, isn't it? Lockdown 3.0, the return of home schooling, this time in the bleak mid-winter when those hot summer days in the garden seem a long time ago. But the end is in sight, not long to go. Hang on in there and stay safe.
What we all really need at the moment is a hug, and if you can't have a real one, what Masterchef's Gregg Wallace would call "a hug in a bowl" is the next best thing.
This rich and creamy mushroom soup is just that, a deeply comforting and savoury soup-hug. Dried porcini mushrooms and garlic give it a huge flavour boost, and the texture is half-blended, half-not, which gives a smooth creaminess to the soup but with big, juicy chunks of mushroom in every spoonful.
This is a world away from tinned 'cream of mushroom soup' (which isn't vegan in any case) - slightly grey, slightly bland, and with chunks that I was never sure actually originated as a mushroom. That stuff put me off mushroom soup for years, but no more!
What you need to make your vegan mushroom soup
Dried porcini mushrooms These give such a deep, mushroomy flavour and rich mahogany colour that they really are important to the overall flavour of the soup. Any other dried mushroom will be fine, but don't be tempted to leave them out as they really boost the flavour so much.
Fresh mushrooms You can use any mix of fresh mushrooms for this soup. I tend to include a flat mushroom or two as the dark gills add to the deep brown colour of the soup, and lots of white or chestnut mushrooms to bulk it out. 600g looks like a lot when you're chopping, but they do reduce so much as they cook that you really do need that many!
Fresh thyme or rosemary The stalks of these fresh herbs give as much flavour as the leaves, so I like to throw them in right at the beginning to infuse the onions and mushrooms with their flavour, but do remember to take them out before blitzing, (do this before adding the stock, or they are trickier to find!).
Vegetable stock A good quality stock makes a difference here - if you can find fresh vegetable stock or have some in the freezer that would be ideal, but otherwise a good stock powder (I use Marigold) or cube is fine too.
Dairy-free cream An oat or soya cream is ideal here and really gives the soup its luscious and silky texture. Don't be tempted to skip it, even if you're watching your waistline - a little goes a long way and makes this soup so special.
There's no fancy equipment needed to make soup, of course, though to get a lovely thick and chunky texture you do need a way of part-blending it.
I use a stick blender which is so quick and easy as you just shove it in the saucepan, pulse a few times and you're done. They are reasonably priced, you can pick up a basic model like this one* for just over £10 these days, and if you make a lot of homemade soup you won't regret it.
Mine is this Dualit model* which also has a chopping bowl and whisk, both of which I use a lot.
Alternatively, if you have a blender or food processor you can separate out half the soup, blitz that to a smooth purée then return it to the pan and mix into the chunky half.
Variations on your mushroom soup
You can make a few tweaks to this recipe for variation, such as:
- Make it boozy Add half a glass of white wine or sherry to the pan after the flour has cooked for a minute or two, and let it bubble for 3-4 minutes before adding the stock. This really gives a wow factor if this soup is for a special occasion. (Check your wine/sherry is vegan - Barnivore is brilliant for this).
- Make it herby Put the fresh herbs centre-stage by using 30g fresh parsley, and finely chopping rosemary and thyme leaves (stripped from the stalks) and adding them with the stock.
- Give it a protein boost Instead of the fresh cream, blitz a tin of white beans (cannellini or butter beans) into half the soup, then return it to the rest of the soup in the pan. They will give it a creaminess of their own and a good boost of protein and fibre to make it a meal in itself.
Freezing your mushroom soup
I have frozen this soup, (in fact my freezer is largely stacked with frozen soups, as you may have guessed from my many soup posts!), so can confirm it is delicious defrosted and blasted in the microwave.
I save empty margarine tubs for a perfect-sized portion of soup which are also easily stacked in the freezer. Just remember to label and date them carefully, or you will never remember what's in them. (Trust the voice of experience here!).
What else can I make with porcini musrooms?
If you have half a packet of porcini mushrooms left over and are wondering what to do with them, you might like to take a look at:
- Wild Mushroom & Sherry Risotto - I'm a bit of a fan of the porcini/sherry combination.
- Porcini & Chestnut Wreath Roasts - a fairly festive recipe but I like them as a Sunday Lunch centrepiece all year round!
- Porcini & Polenta Sausages - homemade vegan sausages.
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
"Brilliant! Chock full of easy recipes and great tips and advice" Hello! Magazine
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Vegan Mushroom Soup
- 15 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 200 ml boiling water
- 1 onion
- 600 g mushrooms (any mix of white, brown, button or wild mushrooms)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 800 ml vegetable stock
- 75 ml dairy-free cream
- handful fresh parsley
- In a mug or small bowl pour the boiling water over the porcini mushrooms and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Peel and finely chop the onion and cook gently until softened.
- Meanwhile, clean and slice the mushrooms.
- Add them to the pan with a generous pinch of salt and the whole sprigs of thyme or rosemary (with all their leaves), and cook for 5 minutes until they have started to release their juices.
- Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add them to the pan along with the flour, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.
- Remove the sprigs of thyme or rosemary from the pan.
- Add the vegetable stock to the pan, then pour in the soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms, straining it through a sieve to keep the porcini mushrooms.
- Finely chop the porcini mushrooms and add to the pan.
- Bring the soup to the boil and reduce to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper as required.
- Remove from the heat, add the dairy-free cream then either use a hand blender to blitz the soup for just a few short pulses so it still has lots of juicy chunks of mushroom, or else remove just less than half the soup from the saucepan, blend that half to a purée in a blender, then return it to the pan and stir into the remaining soup. Taste again and adjust seasoning as required.
- Finely chop the parsley and stir through the finished soup, then serve each bowl with a drizzle of cream and/or extra virgin olive oil, or some chunky croutons.