Last week on our ad-based shopping list was white mushrooms. They were on sale for $1.00 a carton, which is a great price. The problem many people run into when fresh produce goes on sale is how to preserve or use it all before it ages out and you've wasted your money buying so much. So problem number one.
Problem number two: trying to make a recipe that sounds delicious only to get to the end and see that it calls for a can of cream of something soup, often cream of mushroom. In trying to eat food that we can identify all the ingredients in, cans of soup just doesn't fit in. It stinks though, as there are recipes that look and sound delectable except for that one ingredient.
The solution? Make your own! By doing so you can use up that great deal without letting it slip away, have easy food in the freezer that can be used in so many ways and try out some of those recipes that call for cream of whatever soup (most are pretty interchangeable).
This is my cream of mushroom soup base. I bought 4 cartons of mushrooms this last week, as I knew I didn't have tons of freezer space and we don't go through too many mushrooms, though 3/4 of the family loves them (Pony Gal can be pretty hit or miss). It is so simple and fast to do, buying those cans seems foolish!
(As a note: these pictures were taken during the fourth batch of soup base in the same pan, so the pan is getting rather crusty looking, lol.)
Cream of Mushroom Soup Base
1 carton (8 oz? the squarer version, not a larger rectangular one) mushrooms. Any will work, though in general the white button style are what goes on sale and are easiest to find
3 T butter
2 heaping T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t thyme
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
2-3 cups milk
salt to taste
Start by chopping your mushrooms to the size you prefer. We like ours somewhere between a dice and chunky. While you are chopping melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the mushrooms, thyme and black pepper.
Saute until the mushrooms have changed to a darker brown and softened.
Once this happens, you will build a roux around the mushrooms, like if you were making a creamy breakfast gravy. Add the flour and cook for about 1 minute (otherwise you'll have a floury taste to the soup base. Yuck.)
Dump in your milk- I honestly eyeball this as I know with what pan I use how much I need. I err on the side of too much and let it cook back down to a creamy consistency, like that of a thick gravy, if it was too much. Stir the milk in and stir from time to time until your base reaches a nice creamy consistency.
Taste and add salt to taste-usually at least 1/4-1/2 t.
Let cool and put in labeled containers in the freezer.
We use ours for soup (add milk and more seasoning to taste and thickness), added to casseroles in place of canned condensed soup (comes out to about one can per batch of this recipe) or added to creamy, roux based gravies like what we use on chicken fried steak-oh my yumminess!