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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mushroom Sauce without the Can of Campbell's—Easy and Much Better

The stores are always full of cremini (button) mushrooms, and often they are on sale. They're always good for you, and we've found that prepared correctly, they can enhance many, many dishes. So why do we insist on using canned cream of mushroom soup as a liquid binder in so many recipes when the glop is nearly tasteless and always too salty?

It turns out that making your own mushroom sauce or cream of mushroom concentrate is really easy—and it tastes so much better.

We purchased a bunch of cremini mushrooms and another bunch of shiitakes for a faux-chopped liver appetizer and had about two cups of each left over. We also had lots of turkey and lots of cooked green beans from our Thanksgiving feast. Sounded like a casserole to us, so we decided to make our own cream of mushroom soup to hold it all together—with a bit of help from our trusty old New York Times Cookbook.

We chopped the mushrooms roughly and chopped a good-size onion as well. Then we melted two  tablespoons of butter (we used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, which is remarkably like butter and doesn't burn when used this way) in a saucepan and heated the onion until transparent. We tossed in the mushrooms and sauteed them another ten minutes, until they had given up their liquid and started to dry out again. Then we poured in a half cup of white wine and a half cup of red wine and simmered the mixture down to a slightly wet sauce.

At that point, we took the mixture off the heat and stirred in three tablespoons of flour, a teaspoon of leftover gravy and a teaspoon of Braggs Liquid Aminos (for flavor). We added added a bay leaf and two turns on the pepper mill and a cup and a half of water (we'd have added stock, but we didn't have any handy). We added the water slowly, stirring constantly, and put the saucepan back on the burner to bring it to a boil before then reducing the heat and simmering the mixture for another five minutes.

After the five minutes of simmering, we removed it from the heat, removed the bay leaf and had a beautiful silky mushroom sauce that we could have served with steak, or pork chops, or chicken filets. We put it in our turkey (and faux turkey) casseroles with the leftover beans, dressed up with a half cup of cream and a pinch of kosher salt.

With double the stock and cream, we'd have had cream of mushroom soup. But our sauce was perfect for, well, a sauce—and for a casserole. It would work just as well in tuna-noodle casserole or any of those comfort-food favorites that we have stopped making because want to avoid the salty can of Campbell's.


  1. I like this homemade one far better! Braggs...the secret.

  2. Great recipe! I admit to using the canned version on occasion - mostly because I had no idea how to make my own. The lower-sodium version is passable in a pinch - but homemade is always better! Thanks for sharing!