My sister and I used to take the train to Toronto when we were teenagers and we’d shop at the Eaton Centre. Then, when our money ran out we would head up to Mr. Greenjeans and have a bowl of our favourite menu item, Mushroom Cheddar Chowder. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there but I’ve never forgotten this delicious soup! I wonder if that restaurant is still there…..
I love making soup, as you can see from the numerous soup recipes I’ve posted here. This one is thick and rich and satisfying yet it doesn’t take long to make. No simmering bones for hours this time. I set out to recreate the recipe from memory and you know what? I think I nailed it! The “golf girls” were over for lunch and I served Mushroom Cheddar Chowder. Maybe it was the wine or maybe it was because we weren’t golfing, which none of us are really good at, but it received a two thumbs up from everyone!Jump to Recipe
Many chowders start with bacon so I used bacon fat to sauté the onion and garlic. If you’re planning to make this, do yourself a favour and cook some bacon for breakfast. Then save a spoonful of bacon fat for this soup. I actually have a container of bacon fat in my fridge. Yes, it’s very retro, however I use it often. If you cook bacon, just pour the fat that’s left in the pan right into a small plastic container with a lid, minus the bacon bits left behind. So it’s always there when you need it. It lasts for months if it’s just pure fat. If you prefer not to do this, just use butter but trust me, the bacon fat is better.
What are the best mushrooms to use for soup?
I wanted the mushrooms to be the star of the show so I used Crimini mushrooms, sometimes referred to as baby portobello or brown mushrooms. They’re a little more mature than a white mushroom with a darker colour and more depth of flavour. Four cups sounds like a lot but they reduce quite a bit while cooking.
You can use other varieties of mushrooms if you prefer but I wouldn’t suggest going foraging in a forest. Some mushrooms are poisonous. This soup is really good (OK, it’s GREAT!) but it’s not worth dying for.
Clean and chop up the mushrooms and sauté them along with the garlic and onion with a little salt until the liquid is mostly gone and the mushrooms are browning slightly.
Then add butter and flour. The flour and butter create a roux which is what thickens the soup. You need equal amounts of each so adding some butter ensures you have enough fat if the mushrooms have absorbed some of the bacon fat. Cook the roux for a minute or so, to make sure it doesn’t taste floury, then add chicken stock and a bay leaf. Let it simmer a few minutes as it thickens, then add milk, Worcestershire and a bit more salt. Any kind of milk works, the higher the fat, the richer the flavour. I used 2%. Always taste as you go. Allow to simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes so the flavours all combine, stirring occasionally.
Remove the bay leaf and purée with an immersion blender. If you prefer to skip this step you can chop up the mushrooms quite fine at the beginning and leave them in small chunks. I prefer it puréed.
It’s important to use a very old sharp cheddar in this soup. I used white 5 year old Cheddar. I’m not sure if orange cheese would result in an odd coloured soup so I used white just in case. Shred the cheese and add most of it to the soup, remove from heat and stir it in until it’s melted.
Serve the soup with some minced green onions, a dollop of sour cream and the reserved shredded cheese. Add fresh ground black pepper if desired.
Here’s the recipe:
Mushroom Cheddar Chowder
Mushroom Cheddar Chowder
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp bacon fat or butter
- 4 cups chopped cremini mushrooms about 8 large mushrooms
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese reserve some for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- minced green onion
- sour cream
- cracked black pepper
- shredded old cheddar
- Finely dice onion and garlic. Add to large pot and sauté in bacon fat or butter until softening. Add chopped mushrooms and continue to sauté until most of the moisture is released and mushrooms are starting to brown.
- Add butter and flour and stir until combined well with the mushrooms.
- Pour in chicken broth and simmer a few minutes, stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. Add milk, Worcestershire, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If desired, purée soup at this point with an immersion blender.
- Shred cheese. Remove soup from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of cheese, reserving the rest for garnish.
- Garnish with green onion, sour cream, cracked black pepper and shredded cheese if desired.