Monday, January 18, 2010

Beefy Mushroom Soup with Tots and Cheese

My Venture into Beefy Mushroom Soup

When I was a vegetarian, I made a variation of this soup all of the time. My inspiration for the soup came from three sources: French Onion Soup, traditional Mushroom Soup, and Tater Tot Casserole – all of which I could eat everyday. I love the cheese that melts into French Onion Soup. Mushroom Soup has such a beefy and earthy warmth to it, I just can't get enough. I love the simplicity and down home goodness of Tater Tot Casserole. The soup I'm posting today has fingers from each of those dishes. Well, not actual fingers. A recipe with fingers will come in a future post.

The only complaint I have about a traditional Tater Tot Casserole is that the tots turn to mush when baked on top of the stew. I hate that. I like my tots crispy. You'll notice I don't bake this concoction like a traditional casserole so as to avoid the mushy tots. French Onion Soup also suffers a similar problem. The crispy bread mushifies when you're melting the cheese under the broiler. Mushroom Soup, especially Mushroom Soup from a can, can often be one note. When you eat it, it's not "TA-DAH"! It's more of a whimpering "blah". This recipe tries to remedy all of that.

The only place you can go wrong in this recipe is not cooking the onions and mushrooms until they're deep brown. Those caramelized goodies add such a rich flavor to the final soup, everybody will know if you took a shortcut and didn't brown the onions and mushrooms long enough. I was going to throw in a little red wine in the soup as an experiment when I made it but I seem to have run out of wine. I normally keep some in the fridge, in the pantry, or in the nightstand next to my bed, but alas, I was out. OUT I SAY! Crud. If you're feeling adventurous, throw in some red wine immediately after the onions and mushrooms have caramelized, let the wine reduce until it has nearly evaporated, and then add the rest of the ingredients. If the wine tastes good in the soup, let me know.

As you will see, I'm using hamburger in this particular version. To be honest, this is a recipe I make when I want to use up some leftover roast so I don't often make it with hamburger. I just cut some roast into bite-size pieces and throw it in during the last 5 minutes of cooking. I also prefer to use the jus from the roast (or, even better, some roast gravy) instead of the beef broth. It's SO good this way. Unfortunately, I didn't have any leftover roast but I was hungry for this soup so, today, I made it with some ground beef. It's not bad but I prefer it with roast.

This soup is easy-to-make and the leftovers are GREAT! I know there's a few of you out there who hate mushrooms. How could you not like the tasty goodness of a fungus grown in darkness in moist, smelly dirt? Hmm? Craziness. For those of you who like to partake in the occasional fungus, enjoy – and happy souping!

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Beefy Mushroom Soup with Tots and Cheese

(Printable Version)

1 1/2 TBSP butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, chopped into 1/4" pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp beef bouillon or 1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 10-3/4 oz can Golden Mushroom Soup
1 10-1/2 oz can French Onion Soup
1 cup peas and carrots
1 lb or so ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb Tater Tots
8 oz Monterrey Jack, Fontina cheese, or Gruyere shredded
Chopped Scallions for garnish

Preheat oven to the temperature specified on your package of tater tots.

Chop the onion. Put the mushrooms into a food processor and pulse them maybe 5 to 7 times to get them quickly cut up into small pieces. In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and mushrooms. Stir to coat (do not salt). Cook the mushroom mixture for about 15 minutes or until they are starting to brown nicely – stirring every 5 minutes or so. During cooking, you may need to turn down the heat to medium to keep the mixture from burning.

While the onions and mushrooms are cooking, brown the hamburger in a skillet over medium heat. Drain. Set aside until the mushroom mixture is done.

After the onions and mushrooms have nicely browned, add the garlic and cook one minute longer. Add the soy sauce, water, beef bouillon, the soups, the peas and carrots, and some pepper to the mixture and stir – making sure to get any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add the milk and stir to combine (if using cream, do not add it until the soup is almost ready. Otherwise, the cream may separate as it simmers). Add the browned and drained hamburger to the soup mixture and stir to combine. Cover and bring to simmer.

When the soup has begun to simmer, put the tater tots in the oven.

While the tater tots are heating, continue to lightly simmer the mushroom mixture over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes to keep the contents from burning on the bottom. If using cream, add it just before the tots are ready to take out of the oven. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

When the tots are done, pull them out of the oven. Ladle some of the soup into a bowl and top with a few tater tots and a little cheese. If desired, sprinkle with some chopped scallions for garnish.

1) Ground turkey works great in this.
2) Instead of ground beef, I prefer to throw in some leftover roast (cut into bite-size pieces) during the last 5 minutes of cooking. I also prefer to use the jus from the roast (or some of the roast gravy) instead of beef broth.
3) As mentioned above, I like to chop my mushrooms in a food processor. Feel free to slice them instead if you want larger chunks of mushrooms in your soup.
4) Serve this soup with a crusty bread and your family will think you're a rock star


  1. Hello Blog Buddies!
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  2. This sounds very interesting. Like you I like all the components so I am intrigued enough to give this a shot!

  3. For me, my family will think I'm nuts to put tater tots, something they don't want very often (yes, they need their heads examined, I know), atop of soup. BUT to ME this is a fabulous, comfort-food-on-the-fly kinda of soup! *PRINT*

    Trish-in-MO, Tasty Kitchen

  4. Hi there -
    I just had to comment and say WOW! All my favorite comfort dishes rolled into one, I am ALL about trying this :) Thanks for the inspired idea!

    a.k.a. Siggy Spice

  5. This hits all of my buttons...but I wonder, if you were to deglaze with a splash or two of dark beer, what would that do? Especially if the red wine is indeed gone?

    Patty P.

  6. Patty -- You had me at "beer". :-) I think that's a great idea. If it works well, let me know.


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