This means it’s also the season of condensed cream of mushroom soup. Growing up in the midwest, those little cans were THE quintessential ingredient for some of our favorite cozy recipes, and the ingredient I couldn’t quite ever figure out, but I knew I loved those recipes it was in.
For the longest time, it truly seemed like one of those ingredients you just had to buy processed, that there was no other way. Until one day I decided that can’t be true, and it was time to experiment.
Now here we are, with a deliciously creamy, flavorful, and best of all, homemade condensed soup. It’s just like that store-bought stuff, but… yes, better.
Better in all the right ways. I love that this homemade version is bursting with fresh mushrooms (there’s definitely no shortage!) and between the fresh onion and garlic, the flavors are bursting. And you definitely can’t argue with the love that goes into homemade recipes.
What is condensed soup?
Before we go any further, let’s clear up this really confusing concept: what is condensed soup? It’s called for in these casserole recipes, there can be chicken or celery cream soups that are also…condensed.
Condensed cream of mushroom soup (or any condensed soup) is a really concentrated cream that can be turned into an actual soup by adding more liquid, or it can be used to thicken and add creaminess to a recipe, like tater tot hotdish.
Because it is concentrated – or condensed – it’s not intended to be consumed as it is.
If you want to enjoy the cream of mushroom soup as an actual soup, dilute this condensed soup with vegetable stock, or even water, until the flavor and texture is what you desire. It’s much too thick and concentrated to eat on its own.
What You’ll Need
With just a few simple ingredients, you’ll have homemade condensed mushroom soup in no time! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Mushrooms: a must for this recipe (wink, wink). I prefer using baby bellas, but honestly you can use whatever variety of mushrooms you prefer.
- Half-and-half: this is our cream base, the half-and-half makes it super luxurious and creamy!
- Vegetable stock: keeping it vegetarian with vegetable stock (hey, you could even use homemade, too!). If you’re not vegetarian, you could substitute chicken stock. Or, make it extra mushroom-y with mushroom stock.
- Butter: unsalted is best so you can add your own amount of salt.
- Onion: yellow onion adds a bit of sweetness and an aromatic punch to the soup. And isn’t it a must in cozy comfort food recipes?
- Garlic: obviously!
- White Pepper: ah, white pepper. It has an earthy, warm, semi-pungent way about it and adds a subtle, unique kick to this recipe without the heat that black pepper brings. If you’re not a fan, you can absolutely sub with black pepper or omit.
- Thyme: I love adding a hint of thyme to this recipe because it’s cozy, warm, and so comforting! It also pairs well with just about whatever you’re going to use this condensed soup in. Not into it? You can also omit it if needed.
- All-Purpose Flour: thickens the condensed soup.
Tips for Making Condensed Soup
This recipe is quite easy to make, and aside from the chopping of the vegetables, it comes together in about 15 minutes on the stovetop. If you’ve made a roux or homemade soup before, it will be a breeze. And if you haven’t? Then no worries, it’s a good one to start with!
Room Temperature Half-and-Half
Along with the vegetable stock, I recommend using lukewarm or room temperature ingredients so the dairy does not seize up when added to the soup.
Chopping the Mushrooms
I find that store-bought cream of mushroom soup just isn’t all that mushroom-y. So when I’m making it at home, I am amping up the mushroom game. You can chop them as fine or as coarse as you’d like here. I typically range from a fine-medium dice, or if I’m not feeling the time that takes, I put the mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until they’re chopped together (as pictured here).
Mushrooms release a lot of water as they cook. Allow much of the water to release before adding the liquids in this recipe. This will ensure your soup is thick and creamy, with pure mushroom flavor, not watery.
Making the Roux
Roux is a fancy word for cooking flour and fat together to thicken soups and sauces. In this recipe, the butter and flour cook together and is what thickens the condensed soup. Allow the flour to cook down, continuing to stir so it doesn’t burn, before adding the liquids.
Ways to Use Condensed Soup
There are many recipes that call for a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup. They’re usually casserole or as us Minnesotans refer to it, hotdish type recipes, where a lot of stuff is combined and baked together. They’re creamy and totally indulgent.
As I mentioned, you can turn it into an actual soup dish by adding additional liquid like more stock/broth or water. Serve it with a loaf of crusty bread or a side salad.
Place the soup in a glass jar for best results, but an airtight container nonetheless, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes, you can freeze it. I will say that freezing dairy-based soups isn’t always the best option, as they do tend to separate. If you freeze this, make sure the container has enough room for expansion. Then, when you’re ready to reheat it, do so low and slow. That means, use low heat and slowly thaw and bring the soup to room temperature, whisking often to keep it together. Since it is used in other recipes, I find any slight differences in texture go unnoticed anyway.
Yes, you can use cornstarch or gluten-free flour in this recipe. If using cornstarch, start with 2-3 Tablespoons and go from there.
Others have used coconut milk, with the cream, to make it dairy-free. You may want to add more aromatics to balance out the coconut flavor. You could also try plant-based milk. I haven’t tried either myself so please report back if you do!
A typical store-bought can of condensed soup is about 1 and 1/4 cups. This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of condensed soup, which would be equivalent to just about 3 store-bought cans.
Get the Recipe Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup half-and-half, room temperature
- 1 cup vegetable stock, room temperature
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking for 2 minutes until softened. Add mushrooms, and stir to coat evenly with butter and onions. Continue cooking for 6-8 minutes, allowing the water to release from the mushrooms. Whisk in white pepper, sea salt, thyme, and flour. Cook the flour for 2 minutes, continuing to stir so it doesn't burn.
- Slowly whisk in the room temperature half-and-half and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer on low for 3-4 minutes, until the soup has thickened. Taste test for salt levels as needed, remembering that you will be using it in another dish, so it doesn't need to be final-product salty.
- Remove from heat once it begins to thicken. Let cool before transferring to jars for storage. If using immediately, let cool for approximately 5 minutes to thicken, then proceed with your desired recipe. See notes for storage and freezing.
- A store-bought can of condensed soup is generally 1 1/4 cups; this recipe makes approximately 3 cans (or almost 4 cups total).
- This is a condensed soup and should not be eaten by itself. If you want to use this recipe as a creamy mushroom soup, be sure to mix it with an additional vegetable broth to thin out as desired.
- Store the soup in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
- If desired, freeze in an air-tight container with room for expansion. Thaw on the stove over low heat, whisking and stirring frequently when reheating to prevent curdling. Don’t bring it to a boil. The texture of the soup may change when freezing because it is dairy-based, and has a higher chance of separating. Please keep this in mind.