I’ve shared a cream of mushroom soup before that relied on mushrooms and shallots sautéed in butter along with some whole milk to produce its rich creamy flavor. Modifying these types of dishes for special diets often involves a trade-off in flavor or simplicity, but this plant-based, gluten-free, oil-free cream of mushroom soup has no such tradeoff and is ridiculously easy to make.
The trick lies in the use of a wide variety of amino-acid rich mushrooms that creates loads of tastebud satisfying umami. These amino acids are abundant in meat and fish and can be usually be coaxed out of vegetables through high-temperature cooking methods such as frying which is why I normally sauté the mushrooms first. To go oil-free, means to forgo Maillard browning, but it’s possible to make up for this by using a variety of different mushrooms, and steaming them. Also, by making this mostly with mushrooms it not only adds all the flavor we need, it also naturally thickens the soup, giving it a rich decadent texture, without adding any flour.
For this soup I’ve used 5 varieties of mushrooms, enoki, maitake (hen of the woods), eryngii (king trumpet), shiitake, and shimeji (beech). While you can use any types of mushrooms for the soup, the more variety you have, the deeper the complexity. For the roasted mushroom topping, I like to use mushrooms that present well whole while adding a pleasant texture. For this batch, I’ve used a combination of shimeji and maitake mushrooms.
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 5.3 ounces yellow onion (1 small onion, finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 14 ounces assorted mushrooms (roughly chopped)
- 2 cups soymilk
- 3.5 ounces assorted mushrooms (whole, for grilling)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Add the onions, water and salt to a pan with a lid. Cover and cook over medium heat until the onions are tender (about 15 minutes).
- Add the chopped mushrooms, cover and cook until the mushrooms have wilted.
- Put the remaining whole mushrooms on a piece of foil and broil until they are cooked through and browned around the edges.
- Add the soy milk to the pot and bring the soup to a simmer.
- Transfer the mushroom soup mixture to a blender and puree the soup. When pureeing hot liquids in a blender cover the top of the blender with a towel and apply pressure to hold the lid down while slowly turning up the speed, otherwise the escaping steam will blow the lid off, splattering hot soup all over the place.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste. To serve, divide the soup between 2-4 bowls, and top with the grilled mushrooms.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.