Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

In Food on March 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Albert always tells me not to cook a new dish when guests are coming over, but I don’t always listen. Such was the case just before leaving Trieste, when Alice and Michele joined us for a farewell dinner. We decided that I was in charge of the first course and Albert was in charge of the second course, and given my winter predilection for soups, I decided to concoct up a soup.

Now, we have a minor problem in our household. I love soups. Albert doesn’t. But….he does like mushrooms, and mushroom soups. So when I proposed soup as the first course for dinner, it was mushroom soup or bust.

(For the record, he also quite enjoys my Tom Kha soup…perhaps I’ll send you the recipe for that one in the future, but I didn’t dream that one up on my own!)

This soup turned out fantastic. Literally, stellar. Everyone loved it, and it has since been repeated for other visiting guests (Francesca and Severio) and for special soup nights at home. I strongly recommend you give it a shot. This soup is lush and luxurious, with layers of mixed mushrooms paired with barley and chestnuts and then blended to a delightful, chunky, hearty deliciousness! Served with a dollop of cream and/or oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese, this soup has left every eater asking for seconds.

If you don’t have the chestnuts, the soup is also fine (just a bit less thick and rich) if you skip them. I once tried to sub in some alternate nuts and it just didn’t maintain the flavor profile, so I recommend chestnuts or no nuts.

By the way, pictures of our second course (escalivada and charcuterie, along with Albert’s homemade olive bread, fresh out of the oven) are also below. Looks delicious, eh? It was certainly a wonderful meal!


  • 2 yellow/white onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 large/15 medium mushrooms—washed and sliced
  • red wine (2-4 glugs)
  • 1 L water
  • 2/3-1 cup barley
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • handful of dried mushrooms
  • 100-150g frozen chestnuts
  • Soy sauce
  • 75-125g heavy cream
  • Olive oil
  • A generous sprinkle of salt
  • A sprinkle of pepper
  • A sprinkle of thyme
  • Bay leaves (3-4)
  • Butter (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and 2-3 glugs of red wine. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.

In the meantime, boil 1 liter of water in a medium pot. Once the water is boiling, add the barley, vegetable bouillon, and dried mushrooms. After the mushrooms have cooked for 10 minutes, add the water and barley to the large pot.

Add salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for 20’, stirring from time to time.

Add the chestnuts and cook for another 20-30’.

Remove the bay leaves. Add cream, a glug of soy sauce, and oil or wine to taste. Blend with an immersion blender. Add salt, pepper, wine, oil, soy sauce, cream, or butter to taste.

Serve topped with oil, cream (optional), and fresh parmesan cheese.


The bread


The spread


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