If you are looking for me, I am just fine. Last week we got buried under 3 feet of snow. We are shoveling, sledding, and cooking and creating lots of great recipes to post on the blog soon. If you need to find me, bring a shovel, and some food, and some more hot cocoa please! Today I am so lucky to have the sweetest guest blogger stopping by. Sit back, pull up a chair, and learn how to caramelize mushrooms and turn them into soup from an expert.
Hi there! My name is Mackenzie. I like to eat cookies, play outside, and make new friends. As my new friend, I’m super excited to share this bacon and mushroom soup recipe with you. It’s simple to make, doesn’t have too many ingredients, and can be done in under an hour! Before we get to that though, let’s step-up your cooking game a bit and talk about caramelization. . .
When I talk to people about some of their most frequent cooking troubles, one of the things that I regularly hear is that they have a hard time getting their ingredients to brown correctly when they sauté. Either it burns, or it doesn’t brown at all, making that happy middle of a beautiful golden-brown hue and rich, deep flavor seem elusive.
One of the ingredients I routinely hear this about is mushrooms. So, I’m going to give you some tips & tricks for caramelizing mushrooms; so the next time you go to cook dinner, everyone will be singing songs of your mad browning skills and loudly exclaiming:
“Woah! You’ve got mad skills! You should change your last name to Michelin because this just got 4 stars!“
Once you’ve mastered perfect caramelization, put your skills into action and earn those stars with the bacon and mushroom soup (with rosemary) recipe at the bottom. Happy Cooking!
Tips for How To Brown Mushrooms
- Clean. Mushrooms, as fungi, are susceptible to soaking up moisture quickly – and the goal of caramelizing is to remove the moisture and brown the fats; so extra moisture is the opposite of what you want. When you clean your mushrooms, use the least amount of water possible (think pulsing your sprayer, while gently tossing your mushrooms in a colander) and wipe them dry with a paper towel. Wiping them with the towel will also help remove any excess dirt or residue.
- Even. When you go to cut your mushrooms make sure to cut them into even slices or pieces so that they all finish around the same time. (No one wants to fish out burnt pieces while others are just starting to cook, right?)
- Batches. Don’t be afraid to work in batches. Overcrowding is the enemy of caramelization, no matter what you’re cooking. Give your mushrooms plenty of space and try to avoid overlap. A large pan with a lot of surface area that conducts heat well will help with this as well.
- Fat. Caramelization is the process of heat cooking fat – so to get a good deep golden-brown color, you want to make sure to use some sort of fat – like butter, olive oil, or bacon grease. Also, you’ll probably need more than you think, so either be prepared to add an extra tablespoonful now and then, or just start with a generous supply. Don’t worry, the mushrooms won’t absorb much of the fat, so long as you’re using the correct temperature (similar to deep-frying).
- Patience. This is the hardest one for everyone (even me). We want to move the food around in our pan too much – but the more we move the food around, the more it changes the temperature of our pan surface and sets back your caramelization time. Resisting the urge to move around our food is almost as hard as taking a compliment – but you can do it. I have faith in you!
- Heat. Mushrooms are over 80% water, so when they cook they are going to release some of that water into the pan. This means that if your mushrooms are too close or too overcrowded, you’ll end up steaming them instead of sautéing; Don’t fret! If you have your pan nice and hot (at least medium-high heat) before you add your mushrooms in, that will help cook out the water quickly while getting a beautiful brown hue.
- Sizzle. Cooking (like eating) is a multi-sensory experience. You want to hear a constant sizzling while you’re cooking your mushrooms, from the moment they hit the pan to when you’re ready to remove them. If the sizzle dies out, turn up the heat or add a little more fat to make sure you’re encouraging caramelization.
- Salt. As a rule of thumb, the only thing you should ever salt before cooking is meat (although there are always exceptions), and the same applies here. When salt is applied to mushrooms before cooking, it starts to pull the moisture out of the mushroom which makes it more likely you’ll end up steaming it, or have water-logged mushrooms that refuse to brown.
- Flip. The larger you cut your mushrooms the easier this job is, but I highly recommend using a pair of tongs to make sure that you get both sides evenly caramelized without breaking the patience rule. 🙂
For the best results, when you’re cooking mushrooms with other vegetables, heat the fat in your pan and cook your mushrooms first. Set the mushrooms aside, deglaze the pan to lift up any stuck on bits (and flavor), and then proceed with the recipe as it’s written.
Skills & Techniques
As we’re getting ready to dive into our recipe for bacon and mushroom soup with rosemary, if you would really like to prove you’ve earned those 4 Michelin stars, brush up on some of your cooking skills, like: how to buy & store bacon, how to sauté, and tips on washing your produce.
Bacon and Mushroom Soup
January is National Soup Month – so today’s bacon and mushroom soup is here to liven up your home cookbook and give you an easy and delicious new recipe to try. Also, to make things simple, I’ve provided a handy-dandy grocery list just for this recipe (note: The ingredients are listed in the amounts at the store that are easy to grab, instead of how much you’ll use. This is to help you get in and out quickly without having to stand over the garlic and do mental math about how many cloves are in a head (fyi: it’s 12-18 on average 🙂 )
This simple but flavorful soup has an appetizing aroma, deep, hearty flavor, and is finished in an hour!
- 1/2 lb. Applewood Smoked Bacon, diced
- 1 lb. cremini mushrooms or assorted mushrooms of choice cut into uniform pieces
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary + extra for garnishing
- 1 quart of vegetable stock
- 1 package of prepared fresh spinach tortellini (or of your choice)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot on low to medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp; about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and add in the mushrooms. Cook until browned, turning as needed to encourage even caramelization; about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Drain excess bacon fat from the pan.
- Lower the heat to medium and sauté the onions until they are translucent; about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and the whole sprig of rosemary and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant. Use 1/4 cup of the stock to deglaze the pan, using a utensil to help lift any stuck on pieces.
- Return the bacon and mushrooms back into the pan and pour in the rest of the vegetable stock, cover the pot, and bring the stock to a boil; about 15 minutes.
- When the liquid begins to boil, add in the fresh tortellini and cook according to the package directions.
- When the soup is finished, remove the sprig of rosemary, serve and garnish with additional fresh rosemary plucked from the stem.
To cut down on prep time, cut your mushrooms while the bacon cooks. Then cut the rest of the ingredients while the mushrooms caramelize.
For stronger rosemary flavor, individually pluck the rosemary from the stem and sauté it with the garlic. Don't strain.
Do you have any favorite tips for how to brown mushrooms?
What did you think of the bacon and mushroom soup?
Let’s chat about it in the comments or come visit me at Food Above Gold.