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Many brands such as Campbells, Batchellors and Heinz all have a distinct "mushroomy flavour" in their cream of mushroom soup that I can never quite imitate in my own soup recipe. All of them just state their fungi as "mushroom". I have tried:

  • Closed cap mushrooms
  • Button mushrooms
  • Chestnut mushrooms
  • Portobello mushrooms

Along with the common ingredients cream, onion, celery, etc but I can never reproduce that mushroom flavour.

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  • Something I've found effective for extra mushroominess into a dish is to get some dried mushrooms (I typically use portobello) and whizz them into almost a powder in my food processor.
    – brhans
    Oct 31, 2021 at 2:28

3 Answers 3

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What you are describing as a "mushroom" flavor is most likely umami, loosely translated as "savory". It is a flavor that comes from glutamates, which are found in foods like meat, mushrooms, tomato paste, and soy sauce. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is a refined/artificial version that can add an umami taste to food, which is often perceived as a "meaty" taste, but since mushrooms contain a lot of glutamates, what you are perceiving as a "mushroom" taste is quite likely the same.

Additionally, ingredients like yeast extract contain glutamates as well, and added flavors, both natural and artificial, contribute to the taste of manufactured soup.

Campbell's soup contains the following ingredients that give a savory/umami flavor, as do mushrooms:

Soy Protein Isolate, Monosodium Glutamate, Flavour, Yeast Extract

Batchellors soup contains the following:

Flavour Enhancers (Monosodium Glutamate, Disodium 5' - Ribonucleotides), Yeast Extract, Flavouring

and Heinz soup contains the following:

Yeast Extracts, Flavouring

so it appears that all the soups you mentioned are using ingredients not commonly found in home kitchens to amp up flavor.

You can try adding umami flavor to your soup by using lots of umami ingredients, such as tomato paste (also found in Campbell's soup).

Otherwise, the only way to acheive such flavors might be through MSG and similar flavor enhancers.

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  • 1
    while yeast extract is not exactly commonly found in shops where I live, it is not directly rare either. I'd try that first. Oct 29, 2021 at 11:28
  • 4
    Indeed, in the UK it is readily available as Marmite.
    – JNB
    Oct 29, 2021 at 12:41
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    @JNB Or Vegemite, in Australia. There's also been a few questions on here about how to replicated it at home. cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/99819/…
    – nick012000
    Oct 29, 2021 at 12:56
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    Campbell's cream of mushroom soup also has 850mg of sodium per 120 calorie portion, which is an absolutely unconscionable amount of salt - almost half your daily recommended amount of sodium in six percent of a 2000 calorie per day diet. In a healthy diet this one serving of soup would need you to eat about 1000 unsalted calories in the rest of the day to compensate. Cooking at home you would have to be taken by a fit of insanity to deliberately pour that much salt into your pot, so obviously homemade isn't going to have that condiment-grade brine hit that you get from the tin.
    – J...
    Oct 29, 2021 at 15:46
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    And maybe everyone knows this now but there is no evidence that MSG extract is bad for you or causes headaches etc. Assuming you are in the US, there are brands like Accent that are widely available.
    – JimmyJames
    Oct 29, 2021 at 20:17
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A number of years ago I had access to literally a ton¹ of fresh mushrooms (the common grocery store type) and I set about trying to duplicate Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

I landed on a very simple recipe: basic milk-butter-flour bechamel, using about one cup flour per gallon of milk. Melt the butter and sauté the finely-chopped mushrooms until they're dark and most of the water has cooked out of them. Add some celery and onion, then sauté until the celery is soft. Add flour for the roux, cook a minute or two, then add the milk gradually and let it thicken. I prefer to go at it with a potato masher for a while at this point; optional. Salt and pepper to taste.

I've also made this with home-canned mushrooms (from the same event :- ) rather than fresh and I couldn't tell the difference in the final product.


¹  I volunteer at a food pantry. A trucker had a delivery of two pallets of fresh mushrooms refused by a local grocery store (for a complex but understandable reason). There were other goods on the truck behind the mushrooms and so he donated them to us in order to be able to continue his route. Fresh mushrooms do not hold well... We called every pantry in the region trying to get them moved before they turned to slime. Volunteers were invited to take as many as they wanted. I fired up my 20-quart Presto canner :- ) and we still ended up dumpstering a lot of them.

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  • 4
    Wow. How did you get hold of a literal ton of mushrooms? Oct 29, 2021 at 18:59
  • Crash I want to hear more! I've been picking mushrooms for 45 years, and I've never tried canning. Oct 29, 2021 at 20:01
  • @leftaroundabout I'm gonna guess they bought them from a farmer that went out of business or something.
    – nick012000
    Oct 30, 2021 at 2:05
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Well, this sounds like imitating the imitation. Are you guys cooking industrial made "mushroom" sauces or soups only? Why not buy dried mushrooms (boletus, chanterelles and others, that are "the real stuff"? Depending on where you live and what you can buy in supermarkets or green markets, go for the real stuff. Even dried ones. You can soak those dried mushrooms in tepid water for a few minutes, up to 20, (depending on the sort and size or the mushrooms) then use them as fresh ones. You'll get everything, flavour and texture, but especially FLAVOUR. After you've soaked dried mushrooms, treat and cook them as you would the fresh ones.

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