A Mushroom-Spinach Soup With A Whole Lot of Character

A Mushroom-Spinach Soup With A Whole Lot of Character




“When I was born I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother.”

–Rodney Dangerfield


Close your eyes and this soup is absolutely delicious. Stare at it in your bowl…not so much.

How do you write about (let alone photograph) a recipe that is just plain ugly? Do your say that the soup is “big boned?” Aesthetically challenged? Has a great personality?

This is an adaptation of a Melissa Clark recipe from the New York Times where, as of today, fifteen hundred and sixty-four people have weighed in on this recipe and the reviews are ecstatic–5 stars (out of 5 stars).

I loved it, too. It’s rich and hearty. The combination of spices is genius. It takes a very talented (and risk-taking) chef to even think of putting cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice in a mushroom soup.

And, who needs a beauty queen at the table anyway? With soup– as it should be in life, it’s all about character.

Mushroom Soup
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  • 6 T. unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil (I used butter.)
  • 1 1/4 pounds mushrooms (I used cremini but you could mix it up by adding oyster mushrooms, chanterelles and/or shiitakes to your mix)
  • 1/2 pound shallots (finely diced)
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 2 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 3/r t. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 2 1/2 t. kosher salt (to your taste)
  • 5 C. water
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • Fresh lime juice (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 C. cooked barley
  • Plain yogurt (optional)


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter (or olive oil) in a soup pot. Saute one-half of the mushrooms and one-half of the shallots in the oil. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the other half of the butter, mushrooms and shallots. Return all the sautéed mushrooms to the soup pot.
  2. Add tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice to the pot and cook until the spices are fragrant for about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in 5 C. water, salt and black pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in the baby spinach and let the soup cook until the spinach is wilted (about 1-2 minutes).
  4. Remove some of the chopped mushrooms from the soup pot and set aside. Using an immersion blender or blender, coarsely puree the soup. Add the chopped mushrooms back into the soup.Add the cooked barley. Add the lime juice to your taste. Thin with additional water if needed. Serve with shreds of spinach to garnish and a generous dollop of yogurt stirred into the soup. Alternatively, serve with shaved parmesan.


Here is the link to the original recipe from this recipe was adapted: Mushroom-Spinach Soup with Cinnamon, Coriander, and Cumin


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