February 25, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup - a dairy-free version of a classic

A few weeks ago as we readied for the Superbowl game, I had my mind set on making an easy, allergy-friendly soup to share.  I had a few choices already tested, adapted, and posted here at Get Allergy Wise so I figured, easy.  The day before the party I asked my husband which soup he preferred I make.  Not a big fan of soup, my husband threw me for a little loop when he "ordered off the menu" and replied, "How about a cream of mushroom soup?  Only if you can make it vegan, though."

Not one to back down from a culinary challenge, I searched for a milk-free cream of mushroom soup recipe, one that would be simple to make but just as delicious.  I came across Healthful Pursuit's recent kitchen experiment of using cauliflower and I was instantly in lust.  Cauliflower, a natural and nutritious thickening agent for soup, was a BRILLIANT idea!  It's especially great in a creamy soup with coconut milk as cauliflower has a pretty mild taste.

I did very little tweaking to the original recipe.  I just doubled the quantity and for the liquid used roughly half canned coconut milk (full fat only!) and half milk substitute.  I added even more cauliflower because my personal preference is for a very thick soup.  I have tried this with white, cremini, and portabello mushrooms.  All tasted great though I am partial to cremini mushrooms.

Remember to use a full-fat coconut milk for added richness.

My husband and I loved the soup and the other adults seemed to really enjoy it.  One person told me she doesn't usually like cream of mushroom soup but she liked this one and went back for seconds.  My kids are less than thrilled about the texture of mushrooms so there was a little bribing in the form of Trader Joe's crescent rolls and an adjustment in texture (blended/pureed all the onions) when I made this a second time.  The next time I will make this I will completely blend everything.  My kids seem to do better with completely smooth soups. 

Trader Joe's sells its own version of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.
Trader Joe's crescent rolls do contain wheat and carry a warning that they
may contain milk.  We have tried them and so far, so good with my milk-allergic kids.

Another fabulous thing about this soup?  It takes about 30 minutes to make.

Cauliflower Cream of Mushroom Soup - vegan, wheat-free, gluten-free, and potentially nut-free and/or soy-free depending on your choice of milk substitute
Adapted from Leanne Vogel's Healthful Pursuit blog's Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup 

4 to 6 cups of cauliflower florets
1 can of full-fat coconut milk
2 to 3 cups of safe milk substitute (I have used Soy Dream Original and Trader Joe's Original Almond Milk with great results)
1 large onion, chopped
2 10-ounce packs of mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt
Dash of nutmeg
Ground pepper and salt to taste

  1. Combine coconut milk, milk substitute, and cauliflower florets in a large pot.  Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and continue simmer for 10 minutes until cauliflower becomes tender.  Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile stir-fry onions for 3 minutes in a separate saucepan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking until onions are translucent.  Set one cup of the onion/mushroom mixture aside.  (If you prefer only mushrooms and no onions floating in your soup, stir-fry 1 cup of mushrooms first and set aside for mixing in at the end.  Alternatively, if you want a completely smooth soup, don't set anything aside.)
  3. Combine thyme, sea salt, nutmeg, and the remainder of the mushrooms/onions with the cauliflower pot.  Puree the mixture until completely smooth using a traditional blender, food processor, or (my favorite for hot soups) immersion blender.  If the soup is too thick for your taste, blend in additional milk substitute. 
  4. If you had chosen to set aside 1 cup of onions and mushrooms, stir them in at the end for added texture.  Add salt to taste.  Reheat soup on low if desired and serve warm.
For more dairy-free inspiration, check out the Healthful Pursuit blog where meal and dessert ideas abound.  Let me know if you find something that I should try next!

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