Creamy Mushroom Lentil Soup is a hearty and comforting vegetarian recipe full of umami and savory flavors. French green lentils and cremini mushrooms pair perfectly to create a filling soup that is satisfying and robust.
Some unexpected ingredients provide a little punch of flavor.
Picture tells the story
Look past the arrangement of soup ingredients to my backyard scene and you can see why a hearty soup is needed. By now, I think we are tired of the snow and ice, the gray days with waning sunlight, and the cold - at least if you live my neck of the woods. A bowl of something comforting and hot is what is needed.
Built upon the base
This soup recipe is all about building blocks of flavor, one on top of each other. Each additional ingredient improves upon what has come before.
The order of operations
It sounds very formal, the order of operations. It is just a few steps in extracting the maximum flavor. For the Creamy Mushroom Lentil Soup here is how the layers are stacked upon each other,
1. Add the first of the aromatics. Dice the shallots. You may feel there are too many. But they will only become milder as they become translucent and soften in olive oil.
2. Combine the sliced mushrooms with the shallots. This is a major step in the development of a hearty, almost meaty flavor. The mushrooms need to release their liquid. As the water evaporates, the mushrooms shrink in size but also start to brown. The shallots will be caramelizing now. This browning helps to develop a fond on the bottom of the stockpot. And fond is where the flavor is.
3. Add the second set of aromatics. One of the surprise ingredients is what I consider an aromatic - anchovy paste. Don't be put off. It adds an interesting depth of flavor, enhancing the meatiness of the mushrooms. Mince a hefty 4 cloves of garlic and add with the anchovy paste. Enjoy the garlicky steam that is coming out of the pot!
4. Thicken the base of the soup with butter and flour. Just enough to give the broth some weight.
5. Add the stock and herbs. Vegetable stock, great if you have some homemade. Enhance the flavor of the stock with fresh herbs. Drop a few stalks of fresh thyme in the stockpot. Just remember to fish them out when you are ladling out the soup.
6. Once the stock is hot, add the lentils. I like the petite French green lentils but use what type you prefer. You may need to add more stock if you use larger lentils. It all depends on how brothy you like your soup.
7. Add the additional veg - shredded carrots and chopped parsley for a bright vegetal component.
8. Lastly, the other secret ingredient is marsala wine. This adds a touch of sweetness but also enhances the earthiness of the mushrooms and lentils.
9. Heavy Cream - just a touch for the creaminess element.
10. Seasoning - add the salt and pepper
Appeal of vegetarian soup
One reason that I enjoy this soup so much, it is filling and sates my hunger without the feeling that I overindulged. The combination of vegetables and lentils provides the structure of a savory meal in a robust, umami-laden vegetarian soup. And the layer of the aromatics - shallots, garlic, anchovy paste, and marsala wine - adds some serious flavor.
Don't forget the garnish
Like adding a cherry to an ice cream sundae, sprinkling your favorite garnish on the Creamy Mushroom Lentil Soup only makes it better. I added chopped Calabrian peppers and a drizzle of green herb oil. But I definitely think a couple of chunks of goat cheese, some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or some roasted nuts or seeds are worthy additions to this comforting soup.
Get creative and make this soup your own. A bowl of Creamy Mushroom Lentil Soup is a satisfying vegetarian meal that is full-bodied and flavorsome!
Another vegetarian soup option - https://tenpoundcakecompany.com/roasted-cauliflower-soup
Creamy Mushroom Lentil Soup
- 1 stockpot
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large shallots, diced (1¼ cups, 5 ounces, 144 grams)
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced (6 cups, 454 grams)
- 1 cup carrots, shredded (3 ounces, 87 grams)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups vegetable stock (32 ounces, 907 grams)
- ¾ cup French green lentils (5.2 ounces/148 grams)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 stalks fresh thyme
- ⅓ cup heavy cream (79 ml)
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup marsala wine (79 ml)
- Place the stockpot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot.
- Once the oil is hot, add the diced shallots. Stir to coat with olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and soft.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot. Cook the mushrooms for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. The mushrooms will start to release water as they are cooked. Keep cooking until the water has evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown. You may have fond or residue on the bottom of the pot, which is good.
- Once the liquid has evaporated in the pot, add the minced garlic and the anchovy paste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to incorporate with the mushrooms.
- Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan, stirring to coat everything.
- When the butter has melted, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour into the stockpot. Stir to coat everything with flour.
- After 2-3 minutes, add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
- After 5-7 minutes and the stock is hot, add the French green lentils to the stockpot.
- Turn heat down to medium and cook until the lentils are soft, about 20-23 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream, carrots, and parsley to the soup. Cook until the carrots have softened and are hot, about 3-4 minutes.
- Finish the soup with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, and ⅓ cup of marsala wine. Don't forget to remove the thyme stalks.