Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Dried Porcini Mushrooms
It's soup weather in Southern California. I don’t know what took so long, but it’s finally here. Even before the weather finally turned fall-like, I could wait no longer....I was craving mushrooms. It was my husband who suggested I make Cream of Mushroom Soup.

While using just regular white mushrooms will certainly work, it’s the exotic ‘shrooms like portobellos, crimini, porcinis and shiitakes that add loads of flavor and give this soup some depth. Wild mushrooms are easily found in just about any market. Dried porcinis are sometimes a little more difficult to find, but search online or go to a specialty food store. A small bag of those will be all you need.

I like an assortment of mushrooms to round out the earthy flavor of mushroom soup, so I’ll usually grab a little of this and a little of that.

Dried wild mushrooms will usually consist of a combination of morels, shiitakes, and chanterelles. I would then also buy a fresh portobello, and 1/2 pound of fresh crimini (Italian brown mushrooms) and 1/2 pound of the common white mushrooms. Now you’ve got yourself a good assortment and enough to make a killer soup!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

1 oz. dried mushrooms
1 Tbsp each butter or olive oil
1 leek, split down the middle and rinsed well to remove any lingering sand
2 stalks celery
1-1/2 lbs. fresh mushrooms, white and brown
32 oz. Broth, either vegetable, mushroom, chicken or beef
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. or more fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 - 1/2 cup (or more) heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Morel Mushrooms
Soak the dried mushrooms in some warm water for 30 minutes while you prepare everything else. Wash the fresh mushrooms, trim off or remove the caps, and slice. Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot. When warmed, add the leek, which you will have sliced. As that’s cooking, dice the celery and add to the pot. Saute this for about 8-10 minutes.

Drain the soaked mushrooms and rinse them off under cool running water to remove any lingering sand or dirt. Add all the various mushrooms to your soup pot and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Add the broth, minced garlic, and thyme, and simmer 15 minutes. Add the wine and stir. Add the cream, salt and pepper at the very end, adding as much of each as you like. (Start conservatively and taste the soup, adding more if needed.) Simmer soup for a couple of minutes until heated through.

Using an immersion blender, puree your soup in the pot. Alternatively, allow the soup to cool a bit, and before adding the cream, salt and pepper, put in to a blender and whirl until smooth. Return to the soup pot to reheat. Then add the cream and seasonings.

Sprinkle a little chopped fresh parsley on top, or a slice of mushroom.

If you don’t care for cream, leave it out. The soup will still be good. But do puree it anyway.

If you like the soup a little thicker, add flour before adding the broth, stirring a couple of minutes to distribute it. Instead of flour, you could use corn starch. Just make sure to add the starch to a little liquid before adding to the soup, or you’ll get clumps.

This is a delicious, hearty and nourishing soup, either eaten as a light lunch with maybe a sandwich, or as a first course to dinner. Serve alongside the red wine you added to it.

Bon app├ętit!

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