Wild Mushroom Soup
Submitted by ~ Ann McKean
This simple and healthy soup can be made from any combination of mushrooms available, but I like to use nutritious, affordable and easily available cremini mushrooms boosted by the big flavor of dried porcinis. Serves 3-4
4 cups chicken, vegetable or mushroom broth
1 cup hot water
.5-2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms, stems on, sliced
2-3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced (or 1 small sweet onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Madeira (or Marsala or Sherry if you prefer)
1 tablespoon flour
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons mascarpone or heavy cream, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Rinse then soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes. Strain off all the liquid except the last little bit which will be gritty. Add the strained mushroom liquid to the chicken broth and bring mixture to a simmer. Finely chop the soaked porcinis and reserve.
Melt the butter in a soup pot; add the fresh mushrooms in batches and sauté on medium high heat, turning occasionally until the mushrooms are beginning to brown. If you hear a squeaking sound when you stir, that is a good thing; it means they are browning and not boiling in their juice. Remove final batch and reserve. Add 1 tablespoon butter if necessary and cook the shallots or onions till soft and just beginning to caramelize on the edges. Add the minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add Madeira to deglaze the fond and cook till reduced. Stir flour into mixture and add the reserved creminis, porcinis, 2 thyme sprigs and hot stock, stirring to smooth. Add the salt and pepper and bring soup to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Pour into soup bowls, swirl in the mascarpone or cream and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme or other herbs. Makes a lovely meal when served with a simple salad and a good baguette.
To adapt as a rich pasta sauce, remove a good spoonful of mushrooms and reserve, raise heat to reduce liquid by third to half and stir in ½ cup of heavy cream. Remove half of mixture, puree and mix back in. Adjust thickness by adding cream or slightly reducing. Serve over pasta topped with reserved mushrooms and sprinkle of herbs and shaved parmesan cheese.
Note: Mushrooms should not be eaten raw. Their tough cell walls are made of chitin (same as shrimp shells) and are largely indigestible. Cooking breaks down those cell walls making their nutrition more available. Some raw mushrooms (including morels) can even make you sick.