Thursday, March 3, 2016

Waiter, there is a fungus in my soup!

The Chef and I are mushroom people. It's one of those things- you either are or you aren't. We love mushrooms of all kinds. We have been known to wander aimlessly in the woods looking for the elusive morel, and for bringing home creepy looking enoki mushrooms from the Asian grocery store. Stuffed, sauteed, fried, over a steak, dipped in sauce, you name it- we will eat it. So it's not surprise that since we're on a homemade soup kick mushrooms make an appearance. 

Another thing we are really into is roasting things. Especially vegetables- the high heat seals in flavor and brings a smoky element to whatever type of veggie you are roasting. In this recipe, the high heat brings out the earthiness of the mushrooms, caramelizes the leek and shallot and gives you lots of roasty toasty browned bits in the pan to add tons of flavor to the soup. I am cooking bacon in the oven at the same time so I'll add a drizzle of bacon drippings to really bring out the smokiness in the flavors. Deglazing the pan with cognac, which is a classic partner for mushrooms, brings a note of sophistication to the soup. Finished with cream, this soup has loads of character, flavor and warms you up on a chilly day. Homemade croutons and big bacon chunks finish it off with a rustic flair.

A quick word about mushrooms- The mushrooms I have chosen to use are easy to find in almost every supermarket. The typical package of mushrooms is 8 ounces and if you can't find all three types, or if you want to try a different mushroom, such as porcini, as long as you have a pound and a half, mix it up! I don't care for shiitake mushrooms much, but if you use them, remove and discard the entire stem-it's tough and woody. You can use just about any other mushroom except morels. Even if they are in season, they don't work well with roasting. If in doubt, just roast a few in the mix and taste test them. If you want to play it safe you can even use 3 packages of white button mushrooms and still have great results.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
  • 1 pkg button mushrooms
  • 1 pkg portobello mushrooms
  • 1 pkg cremini mushrooms
  • 3 leeks, cleaned well and chopped
  • 3 medium shallots, chopped
  • big pinch dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 8 slices bacon
  • Homemade croutons 

Make croutons ahead of time and store in airtight container.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wipe mushrooms clean. Trim off stem ends. Halve or quarter any large button or cremini mushrooms. Cut the portobellos into similar size chunks. In a large roasting pan toss the mushrooms, leek, shallots, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are brown and tender.

While the vegetables are roasting, place the bacon slices on a sheet pan with a rim that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake until crispy and brown. This should take about 20 minutes. Drain off about 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat and toss with vegetables. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Break into large pieces. Set aside for later.

When the vegetables are done, remove to a large bowl. Use the cognac to deglaze the roasting pan, stirring to loosen up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the broth. 

Working in batches, puree the vegetables with the broth mixture in a food processor. Pour into stockpot. Add the cream. Heat to serving temperature. Serve soup in bowls sprinkled with homemade croutons and several pieces of bacon per bowl. A teensy sprinkle of something green looks pretty too- fresh thyme leaves or minced parsley work nicely.

Homemade Croutons
  • several slices crusty white bread
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised
Cut the bread into large cubes. Set aside. In a small saucepan heat  the olive oil with the bruised garlic cloves. Allow to steep for at least an hour. Remove the garlic cloves (save for use in another recipe or throw in the vegetables when making this soup) and drizzle oil over the bread cubes- you may NOT need all of it. You can use the leftover oil in the soup or refrigerate and save for another use. Toast the bread cubes in a hot heavy skillet- good old fashioned cast  iron is great for this- until browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

No comments:

Post a Comment