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I have often had "cream of tomato" or "cream of mushroom" soup. But I still have no idea how the recipe or preparation differs from "normal" soup.

What is the difference? Is it a specific ingredient or a specific process? I tried a few searches online, but they all show recipes instead of an answer.

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'Cream of' originally meant not only pureed, but cream added, regardless of other ingredients - most modern shop bought versions will either have cream or a product of dairy origin added, which is why there are often warnings about lactose intolerance on 'cream of' soups.

  • I question "originally meant" but will totally buy "usually means". – Jolenealaska Sep 15 '14 at 13:32
  • @Jolenealaska - I used that expression deliberately - these days, ersatz non dairy cream substitutes may conceivably be used instead, given the rubbish that turns up in manufactured food these days! – bamboo Sep 15 '14 at 13:36
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    @Jolenealaska: The matching German term is "X-cremesuppe" (X cream soup), and I always considered this to be made of X and cream. – sbi Sep 15 '14 at 15:29
  • I just know of so many "Cream of" soups that refer to the pureeing of the vegetable as the "creaming" of it, and there is no cream in the soup. I would call all of these soups “cream of” even if there was no dairy in the soup: Fine Eating If a soup is "Tomato Cream Soup", I expect it to have cream. If a soup is "Cream of Tomato Soup" I don't necessarily expect cream. – Jolenealaska Sep 16 '14 at 6:10
  • @Jolenealaska - yes, creaming is commonly used here too to describe pureeing or mashing. We don't have the term Tomato cream soup at all, soups are never described like that, always Cream of, but your point about the term 'creaming' is why I said 'originally' in my answer. Other soups here may even have cream as an ingredient, but are not necessarily called cream of anything. – bamboo Sep 16 '14 at 11:10
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It is a specific process. After the soup is cooked, it is put through a blender. It is no longer chunks of food floating in a broth, but it becomes a homogenous creamy liquid.

Sometimes pieces of other food are added after the creaming to put some texture in again. Typical additions are croutons, swirls of sour cream, or minced herbs, all added at serving time. But you can also add fried bacon cubes, nuts, swirls of flavored oil, or whatever strikes your fancy.

update The comments insist that dairy cream is obligatory in a cream of X soup. This may be so in some culinary traditions. I grew up with "cream of X" soups which are defined by being a puree. They often, but not always, include dairy, and the dairy can be anything - cream, creme fraiche, a soft cheese, yogurt, or a combination. Besides, the homonyms "cream" as in "dairy cream made of milk" and "cream" as in "anything with a spreadable texture which I have a positive attitude towards" (like hand cream) are two separate words, and the soup is called "[spreadable-texture] cream of X", not "[dairy] cream of X". So it seems that there are cultural differences in the meaning.

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    It's also fairly common to only blend part of it, so that for example you can have some mushroom pieces left in your cream of mushroom soup. – Cascabel Sep 15 '14 at 7:11
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    I find odd the omission of actual cream in your answer. In French, we have a specific word for each term in your answer. A "soupe" (translates to "soup") would be the pre-blender soup. A "potage" (also translates to soup) is the post-blender soup. It's basically a purée. Finally, a "crème de X" (X cream) is a purée to which cream was added. You cannot have a "crème de X" without cream. – ApplePie Sep 15 '14 at 16:41
  • Merci, @Alexandre, I found your comment highly informative! – David Conrad Sep 15 '14 at 19:54
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    Why are there two highly upvoted, contradictory answers? – djechlin Sep 15 '14 at 23:12
  • @AlexandreP.Levasseur should write his own answer. I'd vote him up! – Max Sep 16 '14 at 2:32

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