Monday, December 21, 2015

A Soup to end the Year

As the year comes to a close, I leave you with a recipe that I’ve made several times in the last few months because it’s been so darn good each and every time. Plus, it’s easy and doesn’t take long to make. What could be better?

The craziness of the last few weeks of parties and shopping is about to wind down, and this soup might just be the ticket this weekend to recovering from the excesses of holidays past. I hope you consider making it.

May I present: Mushroom Soup. 

Earthy, hearty, a meal in itself. If you need more than just soup to satisfy, serve with a salad of mixed greens dressed with a vinaigrette, and perhaps a slice of some nice crusty bread or some crackers and cheese (I’m thinking a creamy Brie or nutty Fontina). 

A wine to accompany this soup should be something equally hearty, that can stand up to it. Something red - perhaps a California Zinfandel, a French Côtes du Rhône Villages (my favorite), an Italian Barolo, or medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Mushroom Soup

Serves 6

1 oz. dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms or a wild mushroom blend*
3 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped (omit if following a low FODMAP diet)
3/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, stems chopped, caps sliced
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp red wine or brandy
3 Tbsp flour (if gluten free, use rice or tapioca flour)
5 cups broth (beef broth or mushroom broth are best for flavor)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup whipping cream (I use lactose-free sour cream)

Place dried mushrooms in a large bowl and pour enough hot water over them to cover. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain well. Cut off stems and discard. Thinly slice and set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, regular mushrooms and garlic. Saute until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add brandy/wine, stir until all liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add flour, stir 2 minutes. Gradually stir in broth, add nutmeg. Cover, simmer until soup is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

Add shiitakes/porcinis to soup and simmer until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add cream and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Puree with an immersion blender or place soup in a regular blender and whirl until smooth.

Taste soup before serving. If you find you want more “umami” flavor, add a little shot of soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. These flavors add a bit of punch to the soup, giving it a more balanced flavor. But, if you like the soup the way it is, by all means leave it be.

*If you have trouble finding dried wild mushrooms, you can use a few fresh Portobello mushrooms instead. For deeper flavor, you could roast them in the oven a little first. (Of course, if you use fresh Portobellos, then you can skip the part about soaking the dried ones). But do try to get your hands on some porcinis. They are magnificent. 

I hope you enjoy the soup. Do let me know if you end up making it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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