This week's recipe for Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup was chosen by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker. I love mushrooms, and sometimes prefer a nice grilled portobello over a good steak, so I was thrilled by this selection. The week I made this, I decided to go straight to Whole Foods to do my weekly shopping, because I was not sure that my beloved Publix would be able to fulfill my wild mushroom needs for the week, and I really don't like going to multiple grocery stores. As it turned out, Whole Foods was not able to meet my licensed-character fruit treat needs for the week, so I ended up back at Publix anyway.
The recipe started with a stock made with mushroom stems, yellow onions, carrots and thyme. Oh, how the aroma of the stock vegetables filled the kitchen with the earthy, fragrant scents of fall!
It almost made me forget that it was 93 degrees outside. I wish that they made "Mushroom Stock" in a scented candle, because the reality is that I probably won't make this soup very often, even though hubs and I both loved it.
Once the stock was done, it was time to get to work on the major non-liquid components of the soup, namely, leeks and wild mushrooms. I bought two ginormous, tree-like leeks at Whole Foods. Note how they dwarf my cutting board.
I then battled the leeks, and the leeks won. Any leek farmers reading out there? Please consider sending instruction manuals with your stalks. Thanks.
Mmmmm, mmmm . . . feast your eyes on all that buttery leekness. Or should that be "leeky butterness?"
Ina is many wonderful things -- multi-talented, hugely successful, genuinely likeable. But afraid of butter and cream, she is not.
The soup was lovely. It had a complex mixture of flavors, and somehow managed to be both delicate and uber-rich at the same time (perhaps the white wine and cream combo?)
Please check the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see an attractive picture of this soup. I would hate for you to not make it just because of my ugly picture, and there are so many super-talented food photographers out there who have no doubt captured its creamy, wild mushroomy, soupy essence much better than I ever could. I tried, I really did. I even broke out the fine china in my attempt. But while I adore this food blogging thing, I am still a really, really bad photographer. Maybe Santa Claus will bring me an SLR camera and some photography lessons (I better start writing my letter!), but in the meantime, you should look elsewhere for the photographs. Phew, I feel so much better getting that off my chest.
This would be a special occasion soup for us, a soup I'd make for an appetizer course at a sit-down dinner party in the cool weather months. We have three small kids, however, and most of our friends have little ones as well, so most dinner parties that we throw (a) are not sit-down dinners, to put it mildly (b) might just involve breaking out the dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for the kiddies; and (c) will most definitely involve squeezing ketchup into the ears of a Zoo Pals plate:
A soup this exquisite would be offended that we invited it to such a low-brow gathering. We're sort of in that very casual "big pot 'o chili" phase in our lives right now. I am confident that we WILL get to the "soup course" phase in our lives someday, and when we do, I will run-not-walk straight to this recipe.
CREAM OF WILD MUSHROOM SOUP
2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home, All Rights Reserved
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.
5 days ago