Dairy-Free Mushroom and Pancetta Bisque

My sister has developed lactose intolerance.

This means no more fondue night. No more grilled cheeses at 2 AM after a night of going out. Pizza must be consumed in moderation and macaroni and cheese can only be enjoyed with a side of Lactaid.

However, there are a couple of tricks we can use to make sure that she can still eat SOME of her favorite foods.

Mayonnaise based dipping sauces.

Coconut milk ice cream.

And, of course, tofu in creamy soups.

Stop gagging – I said stop it!

Silken tofu is creamy, thick, and – best of all – a flavor sponge. It has no taste whatsoever and totally absorbs whatever seasonings you add. Blend it up and it is a damn good approximation of cream in things like sauces and soups.

Luckily, she isn’t allergic to pork:

Dairy-Free Mushroom and Pancetta Bisque

mushroom soup


1.5 lbs. assorted wild and domesticated sliced and cleaned mushrooms

handful of rosemary and thyme

1/2 lb. pancetta

2.5 cups chicken stock (yes I used concentrate and no, it wasn’t as good…are you happy now?)

1 lb. silken tofu

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 glug sherry vinegar

1 glug Marsala wine

2 tsp. cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste (At least 2 tbsp. each)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

olive oil, as needed


1. Sautee the pancetta in a medium pan until the bits are brown and crispy, like bacon. Pancetta is cured with garlic and herbs, so  the scent that invades your kitchen should be nothing short of magical.


2. Ad the mushrooms, garlic, and onions. Sautee for about 10 minutes, until the shrooms are tender and the onions are glossy and translucent. You may need to add a little oil her to make sure there is enough fat to brown the ingredients.


3. Add the Worcestershire, the vinegar, the wine, the seasonings, and the herbs. sautee for another couple of minutes. The mushrooms will release a lot of water.


4. Now, blend the stock and tofu with a blender or stick blender.


5. Add a spoonful of the shroom and pancetta mixture, and blend more. I do this because I like lotsa shrooms in the soup, but not too many. Blending some of them takes care of that.


6. Add the broth mixture to the pan and turn the heat down VERY LOW. You don’t want to ring this to a roaring boil or the soup will break. I mean, it will taste good if it breaks, and there isn’t anything grainy about the texture, but it doesn’t look as good. Don’t ask me how I know this.


7. Heat GENTLY until the soup is hot, and then taste for seasonings.


8. Serve with vegan or real cheese and sour cream, and enjoy.

This soup is fabulous, if I do say so myself. It would be even better with a hit of truffle oil, but hindsight is 20/20. The mushrooms are so meaty and savory and the cayenne adds an almost fruity hit of spice that enlivens the soup. the wine is rich and the vinegar is tangy – don’t forget that Worcestershire to bring the salt. And the texture – wow. Creamy, buttery, and totally appropriate for a lactose loving palate. Topped with some sharp parmesan and cool sour cream, its’  really a satisfying winter night’s dinner.

Or the vegan stuff works too.

After all, I’m almost a health food chef now.

Please pass the pancetta.


  1. Ttrockwood says:

    Oh, your poor sister!! I’ve been lactose intolerant forever now…..(sigh) but now there are some great faux dairy options. Daiya is the best vegan cheese-don’t just munch on it, but all other brands are heinous.
    Cashew cream is the best thing ever- sub for any sour cream, or to make creamy soups, or drained as a cream cheese (although tofutti is decent) Super easy, this “recipe” gives good instructions: