The method and even the first ingredients are normally the same and only the main vegetable is substituted when making cream soup. For example, mushroom soup is made with onions, garlic, butter, salt and pepper, chicken or vegetable stock, potatoes, whatever herbs you want if any and of course, mushrooms. Broccoli soup is made the same way but substituting the broccoli for the mushrooms.
Start by sautéing the garlic and onion in butter, add the main veggie and sauté a little more, add the potato and continue to sauté, add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to let it simmer for 20 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender. Then puree, season and garnish when it is served.
There are exceptions to every rule and cream soups are not exempt from them. If the soup is a light soup, such as asparagus, then I will use only half the onion and no garlic. That is because the flavor of the asparagus would be overpowered and lost to the garlic. Most vegetables are hearty enough so that the garlic complements them.
The cream, when added, will add a little more body to the soup, but it is not a necessary ingredient. The soup can be as good without it.
If you notice, I did not put cream into the ingredients for the mushroom or the broccoli cream soup. That is because you don’t always need it. Once you have pureed the soup, you have the base. This base is ready to be seasoned and you do not have to add the cream. Think of it as creaming when you put it through the blender or food processor. People are so in-tune with what they eat these days that they are looking at everything that passes between their lips with thoughts of how good is for them. Just the mention of cream will send them running to the health food store. The cream, when added, will add a little more body to the soup, but it is not a necessary ingredient. The soup can be as good without it.
If you do add cream, add it to what you are serving at the moment and then your leftover soup can be served as a chilled soup. Again it can be served with or without the cream.
You can use about any vegetable for a soup. Mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini are all well-known soup veggies. You can also use fiddleheads, spinach and even garlic as your veggie.
Now that you know how easy making a cream soup can be, go ahead and try a couple different ones. Remember, just because we are getting into the warmer months, soups are still a great possibility as a meal or an appetizer. They are also great hot or cold so make a cream soup and enjoy.
2 lbs. washed & sliced mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 large red potatoes, peeled & sliced
28 oz. chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste
A tiny bit of chopped parsley for garnish
4 oz. heavy cream, if desired
Sauté the onion and garlic until the onion starts to get translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are fully wilted and then add the potatoes. Continue to sauté for about 2 minutes so the potatoes start to sweat. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer.
Let simmer for about 20 minutes and then puree in a blender or food processor. Be careful and puree in small batches because the hot liquid will expand rapidly when you turn on the machine. Also use a cloth to be sure you hold the top on tight.
Once the soup is pureed, season with salt and pepper. Place back on the stove and turn on the heat to medium if you are going to add cream. Sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top as a garnish and serve.
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. To read archived copies of Smitty’s column, visit chefsmitty.com or TheTahoeWeekly.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 412-3598.