Fresh herbs give this wild mushroom soup recipe a punch of brightness, balancing the savory, earthy notes of mushrooms. The recipe is easy to make, coming together in about thirty minutes.
Homemade soup is always a welcome meal for the colder months, and this recipe is one of our favorites. A far cry from canned cream of mushroom soup, with its gloopy texture and salty flavor, this recipe highlights the complex flavor of wild mushrooms and fresh herbs.
It's one of the best soups to make in autumn and springtime when wild mushrooms are plentiful. If you can't find wild mushrooms, the soup is equally delicious, made with button, cremini, and other domestic varieties purchased from the local grocery store.
Why you'll love this recipe
- The soup has a deep, rich flavor and tastes delicious. Earthy mushrooms combine with shallots, fresh thyme, and a savory broth for an easy, wholesome meal.
- There's no flour, thickeners, or roux. Many mushroom soup recipes rely on a thickener, such as flour. The result can be a mushroom soup that tastes more like gravy than mushrooms. In this recipe, you'll use loads of mushrooms and a little cream to make an ultra-delicious, creamy soup with great texture and flavor, but without the added starch.
- It's versatile. You can make this recipe with wild edible mushrooms or with store-bought domestic mushrooms, depending on what you have.
- Mushrooms are good for you. They're loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and B vitamins. They're also rich in beta-glucans - a complex carbohydrate that supports immune system function as well as cardiovascular and gut health.
- Fresh mushrooms are the key to this recipe. Their woodsy aroma and deep, earthy flavors lend a resonant flavor to the recipe. The key is to add a wide variety of mushrooms to the soup pot. A mix of mushrooms will give the soup a deeper and more complex flavor.
- Broth forms the liquid portion of the soup. While you can purchase chicken stock for this recipe, homemade chicken broth is best. If you prefer a richer nutritional profile, consider using this long-simmered bone broth recipe, which is high in protein from gelatin.
- Celery lends a vegetal note to the recipe, complementing the flavor of the mushrooms.
- Shallots are members of the onion family, and they bring a savory, sweet quality to the soup. That flavor serves as a good background for the earthy notes of wild mushrooms. You can substitute yellow onion or leeks.
- Butter and olive oil combine to sauté and break down the mushrooms, celery, and shallots before you add the broth. They also lend flavor and a creamy element to the soup. Ghee would also work as a good replacement for the butter, bringing pleasant nutty undertones to the soup.
- Fresh thyme adds an herbal element to wild mushroom soup. It's a natural match for many mushroom varieties - especially porcini and pine mushrooms, as well as domestic varieties.
- White wine lends acidity to the soup, brightening the deep mushroom flavor. You can also use a splash of sherry or a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- Heavy cream adds richness to the soup and helps it emulsify, As a result, you'll make an ultra-creamy mushroom soup without adding flour or other thickeners.
What are the best mushrooms to use?
Wild mushrooms are found mainly in the spring and fall, after the rains, and which varieties are available in your area largely depends on your region and climate.
If you forage for your own, make sure you are familiar with edible varieties (and their look likes) that grow in your area. If you're new to mushrooming, plan to go with a local mycology group or a knowledgeable guide.
Chanterelle mushrooms are available in the fall, and they have a citrusy aroma and smell vaguely of apricots.
Bolete mushrooms, also known as cep or porcini mushrooms, are delicious in this soup, too. They have a classic mushroom shape and a faun-colored cap.
Lobster mushrooms work well, too, but you'll need to extend the cooking time because they tend toward toughness.
Hen of the woods grows in frilly, spanning clumps. They're delicious mushrooms but also medicinal too.
Oyster mushrooms taste faintly of the sea and lend a beautiful note to the soup. You can often buy king oysters at well-stocked grocery stores year-round.
Pine mushrooms (also known as matsutake mushrooms) are a personal favorite of mine, thanks to their deep woodsy aroma. They're available in the autumn.
Shiitake, cremini, button, and other domestic mushrooms also work in this recipe if you can't find or aren't comfortable cooking with wild mushrooms.
- Use a combination of mushrooms for the best flavor. Each variety brings a unique flavor to the soup - improving its depth of flavor and complexity.
- You can speed up prep time by tossing your mushrooms into a food processor instead of chopping them by hand.
- Clean your mushrooms well. Wild mushrooms often need care and attention to remove dirt, pine needles, and grit. A pastry brush can be helpful. You may also need to trim away bad parts, such as those that are too soft or riddled with holes left by worms and insects.
- Cut the mushrooms into pieces of the same size so that they cook evenly.
- Use the whole mushroom, including the stem. Chopped mushroom stems will add both flavor and bulk to the soup. Using them is a great way to reduce food waste.
- Certain varieties need more time to cook, and they may need more liquid, too, to make up for the increase in cooking time. Lobster mushrooms will take longer to soften than chanterelles and other delicate varieties.
- Add the cream at the very end. If you add it too soon, the cream will taste overcooked instead of fresh and may separate.
- Be generous with your herbs. For the best flavor, you'll need more than a lonely sprig of thyme.
- If you don't have an immersion blender, you can purée the soup in an upright blender. Work in batches, and fill the blender only one-third full with each batch.
Pairing this creamy wild mushroom soup with a hunk of crusty bread is a smart choice. We like partnering it with no-knead sourdough bread, which is an easy recipe for new bakers.
Variations + Substitutitions
If you're alcohol-free, add additional broth as well as a squeeze of lemon juice.
If you're dairy-free, substitute chicken schmaltz or additional olive oil for the butter. You can also swap in cashew cream for the heavy cream.
Add sherry instead of white wine. Dry sherry is a natural companion for mushrooms, and you can use it in this recipe if you prefer it to dry white wine.
Swap the chicken broth for a medicinal mushroom broth to deepen the soup's flavor. You can also use vegetable broth or beef broth, too.
Try other herbs in addition to thyme. Tarragon, chervil, and parsley also work well in this recipe, but add them at the end of cooking with the cream. Bay leaf is also delicious when you add it to the broth, but remove it before you add the cream and purée the soup.
If you can't find wild mushrooms, substitute a mix of cultivated mushrooms such as shiitake, white button, king oyster, or fresh cremini mushrooms.
Love this soup? Try these other mushroom recipes next.
How do I store leftovers?
Pour leftover soup into an airtight container, such as a mason jar, and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, transfer the soup to a saucepan and reheat it on the stove over medium-low heat until it reaches 165 F. If the soup has thickened during storage, you can loosen it with a little cream or extra chicken broth.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, you can freeze mushroom soup, but you may notice subtle changes to the soup's flavor or texture. To freeze the soup, allow it to cool to room temperature and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container, allowing at least 2 inches of headspace. Label and date the container, and then freeze it for up to 3 months.
To reheat, transfer the frozen soup to the fridge and allow it to thaw overnight. Then, pour the soup into a saucepan and warm it on the stove over medium-low heat until it reaches a temperature of 165 F.
Can I use dried mushrooms?
This soup was developed using fresh mushrooms. If you are planning to use dried mushrooms, such as dried morels or dried porcini mushrooms, you will need to make several adjustments.
Use no more than 1 ounce of dried mushrooms and soak them in 1 ½ cups hot water for at least 30 minutes to allow them to reconstitute.
Additionally, use up to 1 pound of cultivated fresh mushrooms, such as baby bella or white button mushrooms, which will lend freshness.
You can use the soaking liquid in place of some of the broth called for in the recipe to enhance that deep mushroom flavor. After making these adjustments, you can prepare the wild mushroom soup recipe above without any additional changes.