The Weather Turns, The Soup Simmers

By Caroline Clough in Food on Oct 11, 2007 5:52PM

2007_october_chicagoist_mushrooms.jpgIt may have been delayed, but fall is finally upon us. What better way to celebrate it than to put on comfy slippers, elastic pants and a heavy sweater whilst slurping a rich and hearty soup? Even before the temperature dropped Chicagoist was gearing up to make a creamy mushroom soup. It was fortuitous that the day we made it was also the day that the median Chicago temperature fell by a whopping thirty degrees. We've never taken to any kind of canned mushroom soup: that many think a casserole isn't a casserole without it kind of totally grosses us out.

In the past year we've had the opportunity to see how good a mushroom soup can be, when never intended for a can or casserole dish. We've made other creamy soups before, but the combination of different types of mushrooms, herbs, onion and heavy cream (yes, heavy cream) led to a soup you don't need a lot of to be satiated. We took inspiration and basic step advice from these two recipes.The result was a soup that would blow any diet totally off its course, but with plenty of flavor and texture to make it worth while. Or that's what we think.

This recipe will comfortably serve 6 (about 2 1/4 quarts) with leftovers. As always, you can simply half this recipe for a smaller gathering.
2007_october_chicagoist_mushoup.jpg

What You Need:

1 pound whole button mushrooms, washed and sliced very very thin
2 cups chanterelle mushrooms, washed and sliced very very thin
1 package mixed exotic mushrooms (oyster, shitake etc), washed and sliced very, very thin
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 shallots, chopped (we threw these in mainly because we had them)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 32 ounce container + an additional 2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you're vegetarian)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons white cooking wine
2 teaspoons salt
1 large pot
1 blender

What You Do:

1. Take your rosemary and sage, bundle it up and tie together with cooking string. Make sure it's tightly tied and that the herbs won't fall apart or disassociate from one another.

2. In your large pot (we used a Dutch oven) add 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted add the rosemary and sage bundle. After about a minute add the onion, garlic and shallots. Cook for five minutes until onions are soft.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooking wine and the remaining butter. Add the mushrooms in 3 parts, giving each batch a little time to cook before adding the next. Over high heat cook the mushrooms, stirring/flipping constantly, until they shrink down to size.

4. Once the mushrooms have lost their water weight and you can smell the rosemary, sage and mushroomy goodness, turn the head down to medium. Add the chicken stock and remaining cooking wine.

5. Simmer over medium heat for at least half an hour.

6. Fish out the herb bundle then add the cream. Stir for five minutes.

7. In careful batches ladle the soup out into a blender and puree. If you want a thicker soup leave some of the sliced and cooked mushrooms behind. Once all has been blended return to low heat until ready to serve.

8. Serve with a small sprig of rosemary and a dollop of truffle oil (we couldn't afford the truffle oil but if you can you should definitely add a whiff of the stuff) and one or two turns of a fresh pepper grinder.

Notes:

1. If this seems too rich or fatty you can easily not use heavy cream or used half and half in its stead. You can also used olive oil instead of the butter.

2. If we could have, we'd have used an even wider variety of mushrooms.

3. If you think it's too much soup for one time you might consider following steps 1-5 then freezing some of the simmered mushrooms/broth. This way you could defrost it later then add cream without that strange separation thing that so often happens when you freeze dairy. Or does that only happen to us?