Earthy Mushroom Stew--savory vegetarian comfort food for a cold winter day

5 stars from 1 rating of Mushroom stew

Something wonderful this way comes

Serendipity: [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]

Today I found serendipity--or it found me. I was shopping in my local mega-grocery store, and there in the produce section was a large plastic bag of button and cremini mushrooms. Not quite fresh, but not ready for the compost bin. And the produce manager had marked them down to half-price!

So now, my challenge was to create a dinner recipe that would focus on the wonderful taste of mushrooms and not worry quite so much about their appearance. Sure, I could have tossed them into a pot of spaghetti sauce, but I wanted to do something a bit more imaginative.

I had in my files a recipe from Sunset Magazine (October 2006) for "Mushroom Potato Soup with Smoked Paprika". That original recipe called for dried porcinis, pancetta, wine, and chicken stock. A great recipe, but I decided to play with it a bit to turn into a vegetarian meal that my entire family could enjoy. Here's what I did:

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 5 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups russet potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup wide noodles, (I used No Yolk egg noodles)
  • 3 cups mushroom broth, * (see note below)


  1. Place olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter. When butter is melted toss in onion; cook about 5 minutes or until soft and beginning to color slightly. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are browned--about 5 minutes more. Stir in paprika and tomato paste. Cook for about 2 minutes to meld flavors and remove from heat. Set aside.
  2. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Add diced potatoes; cook for 10 minutes and then remove with skimmer and set aside. In same saucepan cook the noodles according to package directions. Remove with skimmer and set aside.
  3. Reserve 2 cups of cooking liquid from the saucepan and set aside.
  4. Place the mushroom broth in the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the reserved potatoes, noodles, 2 cups reserved cooking liquid, and onion/mushroom mixture. Simmer until heated--about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. * I used creamy portabello, but you could use vegetable broth, or (if you aren't worried about creating a vegetarian meal) chicken or beef broth.

Why this Recipe Works

Typically when we think of stew we imagine an assortment of vegetables and chunks of protein cloaked in a thickened meaty gravy. What can we do in the kitchen to create the sensory taste of meat and still create a vegetarian meal? The key to the puzzle is understanding the science of taste.

There are five distinct tastes that the human tongue recognizes--sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

The first four you are probably familiar with:

  • sweet is a pleasurable sensation produced by sugars.
  • Sourness is the detection of acidity--the most common foods that contain the sour taste are citrus fruits, some melons, and some unripened fruits.
  • Saltiness is mostly from the presence of sodium.
  • A bitter taste is usually deemed unpleasant or disagreeable. Black coffee and unsweetened chocolate fall into this category.

And then there is umami. Umami is a Japanese word for "pleasant savory taste"--a MEATY taste. There are several natural, non-meat foods that have a umami flavor--tomatoes, mushrooms, soy, potatoes, carrots, and Parmesan cheese.

So, if you create this stew for your family, you will be giving them an uber-umami taste without meat.

© 2011 Carb Diva

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Comments 29 comments

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 22 months ago Author

Kristen Howe - Thank you for taking the time to comment on my Hub. I hope you find the time to try this recipe. Let me know if you like it. Blessings on your day!

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Carb Diva 22 months ago Author

Hello justthemessenger - Please write back after you've tried this recipe. I would love your feedback. Thanks for stopping by.

justthemessenger profile image

justthemessenger 22 months ago from The Great Midwest

Mushroom stew sounds good. And, I actually have or can get the ingredients at my local Kroger brand grocery store. I'll try and fix this. Good hub, short and sweet.

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great recipe, Carb Diva. I do love mushrooms. I'm going to give it a try sometime soon.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 22 months ago Author

Thank you Patsybell. We have it often, especially on these cold winter days. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO

I came back to get this recipe. To me it is not vegetarian, it is just good mushroom soup and very creative. I love that you just seized an opportunity and made a great meal.

Thank you.^+

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Carb Diva 22 months ago Author

Joyfulcrown I hope that you enjoy this. I made it again last week, and in place of noodles I used the broken pieces of lasagna that always seem to be at the bottom of the package. Thanks for stopping by.

Joyfulcrown profile image

Joyfulcrown 22 months ago

I can't wait to try this. I love mushrooms. Thanks for sharing.

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Carb Diva 23 months ago Author

Thelma Alberts - Happy New Year to you as well. So glad to know that you enjoyed this.

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Thelma Alberts 23 months ago from Germany

Yummy! This is a delicious soup. I love mushrooms. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Happy New Year!

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 23 months ago Author

Hello vocalcoach. I love stews and soups, especially when the weather is cold, as it is now. I am glad you found me and hope you enjoy this recipe. After you're tried it would love to hear back from you.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 23 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Mushrooms are both nutritious and tasty so I will be trying your recipe for stew very soon. Thanks for sharing.

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Carb Diva 23 months ago Author

BWD316 I hope that you enjoy this. Thank you for stopping by.

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BWD316 23 months ago from Connecticut

I have a new love for mushrooms lately and this looks like a perfect soup recipe to try! Love that it's vegetarian too!

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Carb Diva 23 months ago Author

peachpurple I love the simplicity of soups--everything simmering in one pot. And I love the way it makes the whole house smell warm and loving. Please let me know if you try this recipe. I'd love to get your feedback.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

I love warm soups that perks me up at night

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 23 months ago Author

Hello AudreyHowitt. I am so glad that you visited my hub. This is comfort food for a cold winter day. I hope you take the time to try my recipe and, if so, please write again.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 23 months ago from California

This sounds wonderful and right up my alley!

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Carb Diva 2 years ago Author

Thank you Susan Recipes. I hope you enjoy it.

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Susan Recipes 2 years ago from India

Wow.. This stew looks so delicious. I am going to try this soon. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 2 years ago Author

Thank you Patsybell. Your opinion means a lot to me.

Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

My family will love this, if I don't say the word vegetarian. For us, it will be just mushroom soup or stew. Voted up, pinned.

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 2 years ago Author

Hi YogaKat - Smoked paprika can be found in the spice section of your grocery store. It has a smoky aroma and flavor. I hope you enjoy this dish. After you cook it, please write back.

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 2 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

I am a mushroom lover. Potatoes and noodles will make this soup hearty. I'm looking forward to cooking this up, though I must say I have never heard of smoked paprika before. I assume it is the spice section of the grocery store . . . I'm sure it adds color . . . but does it taste like regular paprika?

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Carb Diva 2 years ago Author

vespawoolf thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you liked it.

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

Wow, what a delicious recipe! How nice you were able to get the cremini mushrooms at half price. We would have to use another variety here in Peru, but I definitely want to try this. Mushrooms definitely have umami flavor...thank you for sharing!

Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

Voted up and useful. Sounds so inviting on this wintery day.

I can't wait to try this recipe. I like your style. Probably wouldn't have given the original recipe a look. But I'll be looking for mushrooms and will make Your recipe.

lady rain profile image

lady rain 5 years ago from Australia

I love any dish that has mushrooms in it. They are awesome. Gotta try this recipe.

danielleantosz profile image

danielleantosz 5 years ago from Florida

This sounds delicious!

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