As the days shorten, we turn to the light of the hearth to replace what has been lost from the sun, firing up the stove to make foods whose warmth fills our stomachs and our hearts with rich, pungent flavors that linger on our tongues and in our bosom long after the last spoonful has been eaten.
Food like mushroom soup – for me the perfect antidote to the cold that permeated my bones hours after I had ridden the Central Park Bike Loop this morning with Linda and Paula. Makes me feel good enough to want to do it again next week.
Well, maybe not that good…
Cream of Mushroom Soup
For this soup, I married elements of two recipes from a pair of my fave chefs – Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten. You can make this soup as light or as heavy as you like by varying the fat content of your milk. (I used a mix of half-and-half and skim milk.)
1 lb assorted fresh mushrooms (I used cremini and shiitake), sliced.
a few ounces dried mushrooms (I used chantarelles; Porcini are more readily available.)
1 cup boiling hot water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 large shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, un-chopped
1/4 cup white wine (Sherry is also nice)
1 liter chicken broth
Sat and pepper to taste (be generous with both)
Milk, cream or half and half to total 2 cups
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Place the dried mushrooms in a 2 cup Pyrex bowl and pour over boiling hot water to cover. Let steep for 20-30 mins. Take out and rinse the mushrooms to remove the grit, the roughly chop them and set aside. Strain the broth using a coffee filter and set aside.
Heat up olive oil and butter in a soup pot over moderately high heat. Add the cremini, shiitake and reserved hydrated chantarelles, stir for a moment or so then add shallots, garlic and thyme along with some salt and pepper. Saute over moderately high heat till the mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add the wine or sherry and cook off for a few minutes. Add the chicken and mushroom broths, turn down heat and gently simmer for 30 mins. Cool slightly.
Remove half the soup from the pot and puree in a food processor or blender till smooth. Add back to the remaining soup in the pot. Stir in milk/cream and 2 tbsp parsley, heat through and serve garnished with remaining parsley. Serve with fresh warmed bread or crostini and a cool glass of white wine.