Creamy Mushroom Soup

If you have fond memories of Cream of Mushroom soup from the can like I do, you will enjoy this soup-even more so than the canned, whose appeal is largely due to its high salt content. This recipe leaves out the salt but not the flavor.

Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, and there are so many different kinds. No matter what type of mushrooms you use for this soup, you will need about three-quarters of a pound. Mushrooms are used twice in this recipe: in the creamy soup base you'll use about 1/3 of your mushrooms (step 1), and the remaining 2/3 are to be left diced or sliced (step 3).

Mushrooms vary greatly in size. I have used cremini and white mushrooms in this recipe, which are typically about 1 and a 1/2 inches wide at the cap. If your mushrooms are on the small side, use a few more; if they are rather large, you can use a few less. If you're a mushroom fanatic, you can, of course, add more than what I have listed here.

1/2 to 1 cup water, for sauteing
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cups water
4-6 mushrooms, diced or sliced
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small yam or sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 teaspoons dried herb blend (like an Italian blend or Herbs de Provence)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup water
10-12 mushrooms, diced or sliced
1 cup non-dairy milk (I like unsweetened almond)

1. Saute the onion, using a tablespoon or two of water for 1-2 minutes until soft and translucent, adding a little water as needed to prevent sticking. Add the 4 cups water, mushrooms, potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes, celery, and herbs and spices, and cook at a low boil until the potatoes are very soft, about 10-15 minutes.

2. Add one cup of water, and blend everything until smooth, or nearly smooth (some small chunks are fine) in the pot with a hand-held immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender by transferring the soup (in two batches) to your blender, and then pouring it back into the pot.

3. Once all the soup has been blended and is in the pot, add the remaining sliced or diced mushrooms and cook on low for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms are softened, stirring occasionally. Remove the soup pot from the heat and stir in the non-dairy milk. Serve immediately.

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6-8 (makes 10 cups of soup)