gluten free

a healthier cream of mushroom soup

I’ve been craving some good old fashioned cream of mushroom soup for weeks.

 a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was growing up I had two working parents, so a lot of my afternoons were spent at my grandmother’s house out in the country in upstate New York. We always ate really well (too well, probably) at Grandma’s house, and lunch was always a big deal. Soup and sandwiches was a pretty popular lunch time menu, but I hated tomatoes when I was young so mushroom soup (from a can of course) was how I rolled.

I don’t know what kid likes mushrooms but not tomatoes, but what can I say. I was a weird kid I guess.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I think of all the gorgeous tomatoes that I missed out on, grown in the bright sunshine of my grandfather’s garden, it makes my heart ache. What was wrong with me? What a sad boring life I led.

One of my great grandmother’s favorite lunches in the summer was a thick-sliced fresh tomato sandwich on white bread with a little mayonnaise and a generous sprinkle of salt. I, however, usually opted for velveeta grilled cheese (baked, not fried) with a bowl of cream of mushroom soup.

Mushroom soup has always felt like a perfect comfort food ever since.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I recently dug around for recipes to satisfy my mushroom soup cravings, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by how heavy most of them sounded. I’m sure you know by now that I’m not shy about using real butter and cream, but Jeez Louise! One recipe, from my best-friend-in-my-head Ina Garten, called for a whole stick of butter, a cup of half and half, and a cup of heavy cream!

I knew there had to be a way to make a silky, creamy, rich & hearty cream of mushroom soup without using that much dairy and fat, but was having a hard time figuring it out. Then a friend at work reminded me that I already know the perfect secret ingredient!

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaaaaaaawwwwwhhhhh! Look at how that beauty glows! Can you hear the angels singing?

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve already used this trick before, when making corn chowder this summer, and I guess I somehow just forgot about it. When I was whining about how heavy and fattening homemade cream of mushroom soup was, my friend was like, why don’t you just do that roasted cauliflower trick?


Roasting cauliflower in the oven, rather than boiling it with the rest of the soup, keeps it from tasting cabbage-y, and once pureed super smooth, it adds an unbelievably silky texture that you’d truly never guess didn’t come from cream thickened with a roux. I don’t even understand how or why this works so well, but it really does.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wasn’t intending to make a vegetarian or vegan cream of mushroom soup, just a lighter version, so I went ahead and kept the chicken stock and (some of) the butter. I also intended to add in just a bit of milk or cream at the end, but once the roasted cauliflower was pureed in, I realized I didn’t even need to. With that in mind, I now realize that it would be really easy to make this soup vegan if you want to. Just substitute olive oil or coconut oil for the butter, and vegetable (preferably mushroom) stock for the chicken stock. Since cauliflower is the only thickening agent, this soup also happens to be totally gluten free!

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

This soup is just what the doctor ordered. It’s so earthy and rich and… mushroomy. Using three varieties of flavorful mushrooms makes sure that every bit packs a serious punch. White wine adds a luxe floral note, fresh thyme compliments the woodsy earthiness of the mushrooms, and fresh parsley finishes the soup with bright green herbal flavor. While this recipe is healthier than most, I would never call it a “diet” or “light” recipe because it tastes way too good to be “health food”, and because it does still call for a good bit of butter and olive oil.

Thanks to the pureed roasted cauliflower, this soup feels every bit as rich and satisfying as you could hope. Some of the mushrooms are pureed too, but I like to reserve a few so you get some meaty bites of them every so often. You can use an immersion blender or a standing blender to puree the soup, but I will say that a standing blender seems to get the soup just a bit more smooth and silky. I used an immersion blender though, because it works almost as well and just seems safer, easier, and less messy.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

A Healthier Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 small head of cauliflower
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter (or coconut or olive oil if desired)
2 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (I used cremini, portabello, & shiitake)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock  (or vegetable or mushroom stock)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roughly chop cauliflower into large florets. Toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and arrange in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roughly chop your mushrooms, removing and discarding any thick woody stems (especially the stems of portabello and shiitake). Heat butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large thick-bottomed pot. Once the butter is sizzling, add the mushrooms and thyme, lightly season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook the mushrooms until they have released most of their liquid. Remove two cups of the cooked mushrooms, letting liquid drain back into pot, and set aside.
Add the onions and the garlic, and cook for about a minute. Add the white wine, chicken stock, and half of the chopped parsley. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the roasted cauliflower.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée the soup until completely smooth and silky. Return the pot to the stove, add the reserved cooked mushrooms and remaining chopped fresh parsley. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more stock to thin to the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and bring back up to a simmer before serving.


roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing

Russell’s cousin was just here visiting us from Massachusetts.

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

This has been a really weird summer, both personally and socially, not to mention the fact that the weather has been all over the place. Back in May I was completely gung-ho about spending tons of time outdoors and hosting barbecues every weekend, but sometimes life gets in the way, you know? Russell left his job early this summer to move into a new career. He was comfortable but miserable at his last job and now he’s found something he totally loves. Things are looking up and he’s doing great now, but money has been a little tight over the past couple months. Even though feeding and hosting our friends has always been something we both love to do, we haven’t been able to justify the expense this summer. Beyond all that, we’ve both been working weird hours lately and have had a hard time getting days off together, not to mention the fact that this August has been unseasonably cool, grey, and fall-like.

While Russell’s cousin was in town though, we were determined to get outside, fire up the grill, and reclaim this summer. We worked out a day when we’d both be off of work and started making arrangements. A menu was planned, wine was bought, and a trip taken to the farmers market for ingredients.

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

One of my favorite quick summery meals to throw together for company (or for a weeknight meal) is a spicy & tangy salad with shrimp, corn, tomatoes, & avocado. Late in summer the tomatoes and corn are impossibly bright and fresh and juicy, so I knew this would be the perfect easy meal for entertaining.

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

And then the weather decided not to cooperate. It didn’t quite pour all day, but the sky was grey and dreary, the temperature brisk, and the weather bounced between drizzle and mist for most of the day. Even though the weather was working against us, we had everything we needed for our no-longer-to-be-grilled meal, so we forged ahead.

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Instead of grilling the shrimp on skewers as planned, they were roasted on a sheet pan in the oven. To give the corn some color and flavor, I traded one open flame for another and attempted to “grill” the ears by resting them over the burner grates on the gas range. As the ears sizzled and popped I slowly rotated them until they were ever-so-slightly, but evenly, charred all over. The corn wasn’t cooked through but it definitely took on a good grilled flavor. The corn was super fresh from the farmer’s market, so it was sweet and crunchy enough that we could have eaten it completely raw if we’d wanted to.

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Despite being super delicious and impressive, this meal comes together pretty quickly with very little fuss. It’s great for company, but works just as well as a simple weeknight meal for you and your family. The most time consuming step is prepping and chopping the vegetables and making the dressing, but there aren’t a ton of things to chop and the dressing is really simple, with only a few ingredients. If you want to get a head start, you could make the dressing a few hours ahead, or you could even make the whole salad ahead and serve it straight from the refrigerator.

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whether you make this indoors or out, it is unbelievably summery and totally delicious and satisfying. The combination of flavors and textures in this salad are perfectly married together, but since no one flavor overpowers anything else, each ingredient is able to stand out on it’s own and really shine.  Crunchy smoky sweet corn, plump sweet red cherry tomatoes, soft creamy unctuous avocado, biting bright red onion, tender perfectly-cooked roasted shrimp, and tangy spicy citrus dressing. Heaven.

Can you think of anything better to share with your family and friends on a summer night?

roasted shrimp and charred corn salad with jalapeño lime dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Roasted Shrimp and Charred Corn Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
zest and juice of 2 limes (you want at least 1/4 cup juice)
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped (skip or replace with parsley if you don’t like cilantro)
2 jalapeños, seeded and very finely diced
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
3 ears of sweet corn, shucked
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 red onion, diced
2 ripe avocados

Preheat oven to 425, or preheat a charcoal grill.

To make the dressing, add 1/4 cup olive oil and lime zest and juice to a mixing bowl. Mix in finely diced jalapeño, chopped cilantro, and crushed garlic. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Toss shrimp in 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet pan. Roast for 5 or 6 minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked through. You could also arrange the shrimp on skewers and grill them for about the same time.  At the same time, lightly char the shucked ears of corn on the grill or over a high flame on the stove top. I found the best way to do this is to use metal tongs to hold the ears, and rotate every minute or so until the corn is just beginning to blacken all the way around the ear. Slice the corn off the ear with a sharp knife, by holding the ear straight upright and rotating the ear while shaving downward with the knife. (If desired, you could also slice the corn off the ear first, and roast it in the oven on a parchment lined sheet pan at the same time as the shrimp.)

Add corn, shrimp, tomatoes, and red onion to a large bowl. Just before serving slice your avocado up in bite sized chunks (*see cooks note) and add to salad.  Pour dressing over entire salad and gently toss, trying not to mash the avocado. Serve with a little chopped cilantro and a lime wedge if desired.

*Cooks Note: Be sure to wait to slice the avocado until the last minute, or it will turn brown. I like to slice my avocado in half and remove the pit with a chef knife, and then switch to a butter knife to divide it into chunks. A butter knife is sharp enough to cut the soft flesh, but won’t go through the skin as easily. Once divided into chunks, I scoop the avocado out with a big dinner spoon.