mushroom soup

If only i were Russell, i could feel good about titling this recipe "danger mushroom soup". I fear that i don't have a formal recipe to share; mushroom soup is one of those things i make by the seat of my pants. It's a little bit different every time, but it's always yummy (if you like mushrumps!). This is more of a method - definitely comment with your own riff! If you're the visual type, here's a picture of the plating from NYF 2002.

The basis for this soup is pretty simple - mushrooms, aromatics, herbs, and stock. It can be made with just about any kind of stock - i most often use chicken or vegetable, but have been known to use beef or oxtail stock if i have it.

Put some fancy dried mushrooms in hot stock to soak. You'll get a fantastically rich mushroom liquid to throw in your soup, as well as some earthy mushrooms to pump up the depth of the mushroom-ey flavor. Porcinis are my favorite, but any mix will do. After soaking and draining the mushrooms, run the liquid through a strainer or coffee filter to de-grit the jus.

Slice or dice or quarter (as you see fit) some crimini or button mushrooms. If you're using portobellos, scrape off the black gills first; they'll turn your soup a nasty color. (I don't bother using expensive wild mushrooms in this soup - save them and sautée them for toast or pasta, or garnish your soup with them.) Chop up an onion or a shallot or some leek; all will flavor your soup nicely. Sautée your onion-of-choice until translucent in a little butter or olive oil (or duck fat, if you have it!), and then throw in your mushrooms. Cook these until they've released their liquid and are nicely browned, with a good fond on the bottom of your pan. Throw in some fresh thyme, and deglaze with your choice of sherry, sweet vermouth, or white wine. (Red wine is good, too. It's especially nice against a rich, deep oxtail stock.)

If you want, you can roast your fresh mushrooms instead. Put them in a pan with the chopped onion, toss the mix with a little olive oil, and pop them in the oven at 350 for around an hour. Check in every 15 or 20 minutes and stir them up. When you're done, pull out the mushrooms, and deglaze the caramelized bits on the bottom of the roasting pan.

Dump all of this into the bottom of your soup pot, add the rehydrated mushrooms and the liquid, and top your pot off with stock. Simmer this for at least 20 minutes - you can let it go as long as you like. I think it simmered for about an hour for NYF 2002.

Puree the soup. You can do it with a stick blender and leave it a little chunky, or you can do it in a blender and make it smoother. For the ultimate satiney mouth-feel, you can push the blended soup through a fine mesh strainer. Return it to the pot, reheat, and add salt and pepper to taste. You can add milk or cream to thicken it and add a little richness; if you use soy milk, be sure to heat it to the same temperature as the soup before adding it. If you're feeling flush and fancy, add a drop of truffle oil to the top of each bowl of soup before serving. Other good garnishes include a few fresh leaves of thyme, a swirl of créme fraîche, or a drizzle of roasted red pepper puree.

Posted by shock on January 08, 2003 | TrackBack

1) Cold Smoke some or all of the mushrooms prior to or instead of roasting. (Smoking is an interesting trick to pull on vegetarians). Light a small fire on one side of a grill, add wood chips or chunks of your desired flavor. Place uncut mushrooms in a disposable pan or on some foil sheets on the other side. Cover. Let go for 20-30 mins or so.

2) Once in a while, you'll find these absolutely massive (ie, 2 lbs) packages of sliced dried porchinis at Costco for some crazy low price like $11. I'll keep a weather eye out for them for you, meriko.

Posted by: Poubelle on January 9, 2003 4:20 AM

oooh, you do like me, don't you?
(And i pulled the smoking trick on the red bell peppers i served Tad instead of the steak tartare - pretty cool.)

Posted by: meriko on January 9, 2003 10:19 AM

is there a way to smoke without having a grill? I recall reading some smoking directions that were for a stovetop...

Posted by: heather on January 9, 2003 11:12 AM
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