Creamy Mushroom Soup

Amid all of the holiday feasting, light and simple recipes offer respite. Take this mushroom soup, for instance. 

A meager collection of ingredients transformed into a meal of pure comfort and satisfaction without weighing you down.

Mushroom soup_HGN

Onion, celery, homemade stock and a splash of Marsala are all you need to enhance the deep earthy flavor of criminis. A touch of ground white pepper is a beautiful counterpoint to the mushrooms, lending a uniquely sharp, earthy heat. If you’re not crazy about mushrooms, this creamy soup might change your mind.

As I’ve noted before, seek out quality ingredients in dishes like this where there are so few ingredients. You’ll be rewarded.

What’s in it for me?

Crimini mushrooms, also known as brown or baby bella mushrooms, are low in calories (only 23 in a 1-cup serving), contain no fat or cholesterol, are very low in sodium and sugar, and provide about 2 grams or protein per serving. The level of free radical- and oxidation-fighting antioxidants in criminis is surprisingly high — on par with red bell peppers, in fact. One such antioxidant is selenium, which is important for DNA synthesis and prevention of cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, and promotes thyroid and reproductive health. There is over 30% of your daily value for selenium in 1 cup of these mushrooms.

Criminis are also a good source of copper and B vitamins. Important for development of collagen and elastin to maintain skin health, copper also has infection-fighting antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, aids in production of red blood cells, and is involved in maintaining health of our bones and nerves. The B vitamins, particularly niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid — the three found in highest amounts in criminis — play roles in energy production and in keeping our digestive and nervous systems running smoothly.

Mushrooms in general are natural plant-based sources of free glutamate — the amino acid our taste buds recognize as the “fifth taste” umami, that, like salt, enhances the savory flavors of other foods, without actually having to add salt.

White peppercorns come from the same plant as black peppercorns. The difference between the two is that the black are unripe and the white are ripe fruits, called drupes at this point. The similarity is their heat, derived from the active compound piperine. Similar to the capsaicin in chilli peppers, piperine may improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, and also may provide antioxidant protection from free radicals.

This low-fat, nutrient-dense soup is light yet rich and satisfying all at once. Lovely served piping hot with only a dollop of plain yogurt and fresh herbs, you could turn it into a heartier meal with the addition of lentils or beans, other veg you have on hand, a sprinkling of toasted nuts or seeds, leftover meat from the holidays, or some brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, or a slice of toasty bread.

Simple and inexpensive to prepare, my creamy mushroom soup keeps well both in the refrigerator as a make-ahead or in the freezer for enjoyment later in the season. The best kind of recipe to have on hand this time of year!

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Mushrooms — hate ’em or love ’em? Which is best? (Some day I’ll try a morel…)

Creamy Mushroom Soup
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Recipe Type: Soup, gluten-free, grain-free
Makes: 4 servings
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 pound crimini mushrooms, stem ends trimmed and roughly chopped, reserving 1/4 cup sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Marsala wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable, beef) -- low-sodium/no salt added, if using store-bought
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground white pepper, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, to finish (optional)
  • Fresh or dried chopped chives, to finish
  1. In a medium pot, heat 1 1/2 tsp of the oil over medium. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms and cook until they soften and release their liquid. Season lightly with a sprinkle of salt.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add Marsala to deglaze the bottom by scraping all the bits off with a wooden spoon. When the wine has mostly evaporated, about 1 minute, stir in the stock, 1 cup of water and white pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, heat a small nonstick skillet with remaining 1/2 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Carefully add the sliced mushrooms in a single layer and cook until brown and slightly crispy, about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside as you finish preparing the soup. (Remove the slices to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, if you wish.)
  4. With an immersion blender or standing blender, puree the soup until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper. Thin with broth or water, if desired. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt, if using, the sauteed mushroom slices, and a sprinkling of chives.
HGN Notes
Criminis (also called brown mushrooms or baby bellas) are slightly earthy. If you'd like something more mild, substitute white button mushrooms. If you'd like something more robust, swap in equal amounts of criminis' big brother -- the portobello.

As a make-ahead meal, prepare the soup and sauteed mushrooms and store separately in the refrigerator until needed. When ready to eat, simply reheat the soup in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and quickly rewarm the sauteed mushrooms in a dry nonstick skillet or briefly in the microwave before serving. (You can also wait to freshly prepare the sauteed mushrooms until this time, if desired.) Wait until serving to add the sauteed mushrooms, chives, and yogurt.

+ Replace the crimini garnish with a more unique mushroom, sauteing sliced or diced chanterelle, oyster, shiitake, or whole enoki. If you're lucky enough to have morels, by all means try them here!
+ Whisk in 1 to 2 tsp miso paste for added creaminess, umami flavor and gut-friendly probiotics and nutrients.
+ Add in 1/2 cup cooked white or mung beans, 1/2 cup cooked brown or green lentils, or 1/2 container silken tofu to boost protein and fiber + increase creaminess.
+ For a more substantial meal, serve over a small scoop of brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley or other whole grain.
+ Add texture with a sprinkling of toasted nuts or seeds, warm whole grain croutons, or a slice of toasty garlic-swiped bread.
Nutrition Info
Serving Size: 1 cup Calories: 86 Fat: 4 Saturated fat: 1 Unsaturated fat: 3 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 7 Sugar: 3 Sodium: 68 Fiber: 1 Protein: 7 Cholesterol: 0

Recipe is a Heather Goesch Nutrition original.

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