When you work in magazine publishing, there are days you love. Two-hour lunch days. Down time days right after the close. Days you want to last for weeks but only last a day or two at most. Then the worry of the status of the next round of articles kicks in. You find yourself walking or running to the nearest café or deli. Hopefully, they make decent food that you can gobble down at your desk while working.
One of these lunch stops, the very French-American Café Clementine, that I frequented was a neighborhood favorite that often sold out of specific items. Café Clementine got so many complaints from hangry customers over the often sold out items that they put their menu online before the lunch rush.
Hallelujah. I could check to see if my favorite lunch from them was available. Ah Mushroom soup! I was always in the mood for its creamy, comforting and mild but unique flavor. I could taste the fantastic blend of earthy mushrooms, pungent garlic and sweet onions.
The texture and taste of this soup never disappointed. I could eat this soup at my desk—in an open office plan—and still embody happiness as if I was celebrating Christmas in the Swiss Alps with a view of tallest snowcapped mountains while I sat by a lovely fireplace.
Upon seeing mushroom soup listed on Café Clementine’s daily online menu, I’d sprint across Broadway at 11:30ish before it sold out for the day. The usual lunch window (12pm-2pm) was too late for this soup.
Its light gray color didn’t look very appetizing but the flavor and texture more than made up for it.
When I made it at home the first time, my son called it prison food. The texture was too thick. I used too many mushrooms and too many spices and not enough broth.
The second time with added arrow root powder and soy creamer was a winner. It’s not an exact replica of Café Clementine’s mushroom soup but it comes very close. Try the baked mushroom topping for an umami experience.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Magical Mushroom Soup
2 tbsp oil for frying
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1 tsp butter
4 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 cup water or broth
1 heaping tbsp crushed garlic
A pinch of oregano
2 cups unsweetened dairy-free creamer (optional)
1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Sautee onions till golden brown. Sprinkle with oregano.
2. Set aside onions and add butter and a little more oil if needed. Turn the heat up. Add mushrooms and let brown. Drain any excess water and return mushrooms to heat.
3. Add chicken broth, cooked onions and Worcestershire sauce. Let mushrooms simmer on low for 30 minutes or until tender.
4. Transfer mushroom, onion and broth mixture to a blender. Blend until mixture is pureed.
5. Mix arrowroot powder with water or broth and add to blender.
6. Add salt, garlic and oregano. Also add more broth or water if the mixture is too thick. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour in a mixing bowl.
7. (Optional) Add 2 cups of cream and gently whisk. This step will make the soup a bit light and airy and ready to serve.
Crispy Mushroom Topping
2 large portabella mushroom caps, cleaned with a damp cloth and sliced thin
Oil for frying
1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and lay mushroom slices flat. Make sure they don’t crowd each other.
3. Brush mushroom slices with oil and season with salt.
4. Bake mushrooms for 15 minutes, turn and bake for another 15 minutes. Use more oil if needed.
5. Remove from oven and let cool and crisp up.