Not your Mamma’s Cream of Mushroom soup!

This weekend, I’m going to participate in a cooking demo at the Amis House in Rogersville, TN.

Constructed by Thomas Amis in 1780, the house and mill were at the edge of civilization, north west of the Watauga . Jake and Wendy Jacobs (who is a descendent of Thomas Amis) bought and restored the property and it’s now a fabulous eatery. There is a church nearby at the Ebb and Flowing Springs that is almost as old as the site and it’s being rededicated this weekend. As part of the festivities, Doug and Donna Ledbetter, Artie and Diane O’Neill and myself were asked to do a cooking demo to add a little 18th century flavor. That was a poor pun. Anyway, I thought and thought about what I could make and as it’s mushroom time in the mountains, I thought a variation of the Shirley Plantation Mushroom soup would be the very thing!

The original recipe is very simple:

  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups cream
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Rinse, trim and chop mushrooms.

While mushrooms are being prepared, place butter in pan on trivet on the hearth, near to but not in the fire. Allow butter to melt slowly.

Stir in mushrooms. Cover pan and shovel a few coals under the trivet. Allow mushrooms to simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until done, about 15 minutes.

Stir in flour and continue cooking mushroom mixture. Stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed and flour is cooked.

Combine cream and milk in a separate pan and heat over flames until scalded (almost boiling).

When mushroom mixture is ready, slowly add hot liquid, salt and cayenne, stirring occasionally.

Continue to let soup cook a few minutes, stirring until slightly thickened. Correct seasoning and serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

— Shirley Plantation, via The Old Stone House

I played with this recipe tonight and sweetened the deal and oh my, it was unreal!

For one thing, I used button mushrooms and Shitake and upped the quantity to 2 pounds. I also added green onions to the mushrooms including the tops and besides a pinch of cayenne, I added pepper, fresh thyme, majoram and a spring of fresh rosemary. For a garnish tomorrow, I have some fresh watercress and sherry and i think it will be wonderful. Maybe it’s not the orginial soup but dolled up, it’s really excellent!


My buddy, the librarian at school raises mushroom and today I found 4 beautiful, large portobello mushrooms on my desk. Tonight I made a mushroom stew, using a recipe made famous by Roxx Tavern and Diner in Atlanta. It turned out wonderful and will be even more spectacular tomorrow when the ingredients have time to meld. Served with homemade parsleyed noodles or tortelini- oh YEAH!

6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound rutabagas, cut into large dice (I used turnips but will use rutabagas when I find them)
1/2 pound parsnips, cut into large dice
1/2 pound carrots, cut into large dice
1/2 pound shallots, halved
2 1/2 pounds portobello mushroom caps, quartered (took all my mushrooms caps)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I used fresh and 2 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme  (I used fresh- same amount)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine  (merlot)
1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomatoes  (I used fresh Roma tomatoes whizzed in the Cuisanart)
2 cups mushroom stock (See Recipe Below)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For Mushroom Stock:
Makes 1 quart
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
6 ounces portobello mushroom stems
1 unpeeled carrot, sliced
1 small leek, cut lengthwise (no such thing as a small leek- I used 1 large leek greens and all)
1 unpeeled small white onion, coarsely chopped (omit if using one large leek)
1 rib celery, sliced
1 clove garlic, unpeeled
1 sprig parsley (uped this to 5 )
1/2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (3 springs of fresh)
6 cups water


            In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the rutabagas, parsnips, carrots and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and caramelized, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the wine, and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes and mushroom stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the water and flour. Stir into stew and cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve at once or cool to room temperature and refrigerate.To prepare mushroom stock:
In a small stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the mushroom stems, carrot, leek, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat low enough to maintain a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, or until reduced by 1/3 to yield 4 cups.
Set aside 2 cups for the mushroom stew and reserve the rest for another use.


This stew was one of the most savory things I’ve ever made. Was unreal good the second day!