Mushroom Bisque Without Roux ~ The Way It’s Supposed To Be

by Jeff Berkowitz on December 5, 2011 · 7 comments

in gluten-free,mushrooms,Soup,vegetarian

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Rant for the day ~ I am so sick of people thickening a soup with roux and calling it bisque. I will go on the record as saying that this is incorrect use of the term “bisque”. Bisque implies (if not outright demands) that the soup be thickened with rice. People can do as they wish, of course, but  calling a simple creamed soup thickened with roux a bisque is the height of pretension and demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge and skill. On to more important things…

As you know (if you have read my last two posts here and here ), I have a ton of cooked mushrooms. This is a blessing not a curse. Today as I was thinking of the plethora of mushrooms in my possession I suddenly had a hankering for cream of mushroom soup. One small complication is that my lovely wife is not eating gluten making necessary a small adjustment to my recipe. I decided to thicken the soup with rice instead of flour and butter. Once the base was made I added the mushrooms and had a delightful mushroom bisque (see rant above) in about 30 minutes .

Mushroom Bisque Recipe:

Servings: 4 bowls or 8 cups

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, peeled, diced

1 clove garlic, mashed

½ cup Arborio rice

1 tsp curry powder

2 quarts Water (or your stock of choice: chicken, vegetable, celery juice etc.)

2 cups sauteed mushrooms, any variety or combination that pleases you, with their accumulated juices

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of thyme

Heat the sauce pan, add the oil. Saute the onions and garlic until they are translucent. Add the rice and the curry powder stirring until the curry powder becomes quite fragrant. Add the water or stock stirring to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom. Bring this to a boil and then simmer for about 25 minutes until the rice is quite soft. Using an immersion blender blend the soup until it is perfectly smooth and has the consistency of a light bechamel sauce. Add the mushrooms and season with the rest of the seasoning. You can finish the soup with heavy cream or even egg yolks for extra richness, but frankly, it should not need it. Enjoy!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gina December 17, 2012 at 11:52 am


If you’re really a purist about bisque, then the words “mushroom” and “bisque” don’t belong together because the literal translation of “bisque” is…..well, apparently, that’s to be debated. I found this thread of food nerds (I’m one too) discussing it on Chowhound.

In any case, your “bisque” looks delicious and I would like to make it :-)


2 Steve December 14, 2012 at 6:02 am

Just an fyi, some will say that a true bisque should be made with crustaceans “bay of Biscay”, and that anything else would not be a true bisque.


3 Jeff Berkowitz January 14, 2013 at 10:48 am

Both of these comments have merit; however, cuisine, like language evolves. We learn a clever technique with one recipe and we apply it to another.


4 Curtis Dunzello February 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Hi Jeff,
I got off track, but just tried the recipe tonight. I used almond/vanilla milk instead of coconut because it was handy. I’m not sure if I got the taste you were thinking of, but it was good.



5 Curtis Dunzello January 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I like your recipes.

I cannot have dairy. Usually I puree a vegetables to thicken. I know it’ll change the recipe, is there a substitute I can use for cream?

best regards,
(Hope Hall’s brother)


6 Jeff Berkowitz January 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hi Curtis,
Tell Hope I said hi. Yes, this recipe works very well without the cream, but to add a little richness you could use coconut milk (the stuff in the can but not cocolopez) or you could temper in some egg yolk which would do the trick nicely.


7 Curtis Dunzello January 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Thanks Jeff,
I’ll give it a try next weekend.


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