Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Senior year of college I took an experimental foods class in which we modified a recipe to make it healthier or tend to a special dietary need. I decided to modify a cream of mushroom soup to be suitable for vegans and those with lactose intolerance. Over the course of 3 weeks, I experimented with the control and modified recipes to perfect them for the final tasting day. The results were wonderful!

Control Recipe (serves 5-6):

44.4 mL salted butter

342 g crimini mushrooms, chopped

1.5 shallots, chopped

360 mL low sodium vegetable broth

3.9 g pepper

6.5 g sea salt

4.0 g dried thyme

5 g onion powder

237 mL heavy cream

Sauté the butter, mushrooms and shallot in a deep pot over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Pour in the vegetable broth, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the cream. Use an immersion blender and pulse to incorporate the cream and continue until the mushrooms are smooth.

Modified Recipe (serves 5-6)

44.4 mL olive oil

342 g crimini mushrooms, chopped

1.5 shallots, chopped

360 mL low sodium vegetable broth

3.9 g pepper

4.0 g dried thyme

5 g onion powder

237 mL cashew cream

To make the modified soup, follow the same steps for the control soup with olive oil instead of butter and cashew cream instead of heavy cream. For the cashew cream, soak 210 g of raw cashews in 950 mL boiling water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the cashews and save the soaking water. Place the cashews in a blender with 267 mL of the saved soaking water and blend until smooth and about the thickness of Greek yogurt.

If you want to learn more about the experiment, my abstract is below!

Over 30 million Americans are lactose intolerant, meaning they are unable to or have a decreased ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. The experimenter was inspired by her own struggle with lactose intolerance to modify a cream of mushroom soup to make it dairy-free. A basic cream of mushroom soup containing butter and heavy cream was used as the control and the modified version was made by substituting the butter with olive oil and heavy cream with cashew cream. The purpose of the experiment was to compare the creaminess, mouth feel, and overall acceptability of the soups. It was hypothesized that modifying the soup would yield a change in viscosity without affecting the overall acceptability. One objective and two subjective tests were used to test the hypotheses. A line-spread test was done to compare the viscosity of the soups, which showed that the modified was slightly more viscous than the control. The first subjective test asked tasters to compare the 2 soups and determine which had a better mouth feel and which had a better flavor. The second subjective test was a hedonic scale that ranged from not at all creamy to extremely creamy. On average, the modified soup was ranked extremely creamy and the control was ranked moderately creamy. More tasters preferred the flavor and mouth feel of the modified in comparison to the control.

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