Now that it’s officially fall, I can turn my attention to hearty soups and stews made with autumn-inspired ingredients. I actually developed this soup a few months ago at the request of my friend Dave. He loves mushrooms and soup so putting the two together seemed like a logical step.
For this soup, select a variety of mushrooms. Fresh white button mushrooms, creminis, portabellos, chanterelles and oyster mushrooms are usually available at most supermarkets. If you happen to find fresh porcini, they are well worth adding to your soup (the Italian mushrooms are very rare in North American stores but I have seen them). You can also use a few reconstituted dried mushrooms. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them soak for about 30 minutes or until the mushrooms soften. You can use the soaking water in place of some of the stock – it will add a nice rich mushroom flavour.
I must confess that I don’t really like truffle oil, even though I call for it as an option to finish the soup. Most truffle oil is synthetic and I find it has an unpleasant fake taste (even the relatively expensive stuff). However, if you enjoy the flavour and want to add a bit, feel free to do so. A little goes a long way so don’t over do it. And if you’re lucky enough to have some real truffles, why not shave a bit over the finished soup for a decadent treat?
Note: This soup is very rich – you can always substitute half-and-half or evaporated milk for the cream.
Makes about 8 cups
- 1-1/2 lbs. (681 g) mixed mushrooms (button, portabello, cremini, shiitake, etc), cleaned and cut into ½” thick slices (should yield about 8 cups of sliced mushrooms)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme OR 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 Tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cups vegetable OR mushroom OR beef broth, preferably low-sodium
- 2 cups milk
- 1-1/2 cups cream (35% M.F.)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Truffle oil, to garnish (optional)
- In an enameled cast iron dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil on medium heat.
- Add half of the mushroom slices (about 4 cups). Sauté mushrooms until browned and softened, about 7 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside in a bowl.
- Heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in the same pot. Add the remaining mushrooms, onion, garlic, celery and thyme. Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add sherry. Let mixture simmer for about 2 minutes and then add the flour. Stir until flour is thoroughly combined with the vegetables and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the flour doesn’t burn.
- Pour in the beef broth and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring to ensure the vegetables don’t stick together. Remove soup from the heat and carefully purée mixture with a hand blender* until smooth. (*If you don’t have a hand blender, transfer mixture to a regular blender once it cools a bit and blend until puréed. If you don’t have a blender, skip this step altogether!)
- Return the purée to the stove. Add milk, cream and reserved mushroom pieces back into the soup. Let simmer on medium heat for another 10 minutes (do not boil) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, drizzle with a small amount of truffle oil per serving (if desired), additional freshly ground pepper and a bit of fresh chopped thyme.
Option for an elegant and impressive presentation:
Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. Drizzle each serving with truffle oil (if desired). Roll out thawed puff pastry and cut into rounds that are slightly bigger than your bowls. Top each bowl with a pastry round and crimp to seal onto the bowl. Cut two slashes into the top of each pastry to release steam and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and puffed. Be sure to warn your guests that the soup inside is very hot!