A make-ahead, adaptable, mushroom-powered soup
THE DAYS grow chilly, a hearty soup is welcome at any get-together.
Soups are easy to make in advance and need nothing more than a wedge of cheese and a loaf of bread, maybe a bowl of olives and a glass of wine. That’s supper, lunch or an afternoon pick-me-up, served in a generous bowl.
For this soup’s inspiration, I turned to the flavours of France’s classic forestière and Italy’s cacciatore — forest or hunter’s stews — where the woodsy earthiness of mushrooms takes centre stage.
Creamy Mushroom Bisque Makes 8 servings (6 cups)
1 pound cremini mushrooms, caps thinly sliced and stems removed and reserved (see headnote)
1⁄2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1⁄2 cup chopped shallot
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 2 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1⁄2 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
1⁄4 cup dry sherry (may substitute dry vermouth or unsweetened apple cider)
3⁄4 tsp kosher salt, or more as needed
1⁄4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
1⁄2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Combine the cremini mushroom stems, the dried porcini and the stock in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Once small bubbles begin to form at the edges of the liquid, cover, reduce the heat mediumlow and cook for 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture through a finemesh strainer set over a large heatproof pitcher or liquid cup measure, discarding the solids. Let cool undisturbed, during which time some sediment will fall to the bottom.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sliced creminis in a single layer; it may be necessary to cook the mushrooms in two batches, adding an extra tablespoon of oil. Reduce the heat to medium-high; cook undisturbed for about eight minutes, until they are nicely browned and release from the pan without sticking. Turn them over; cook on the second side for six to eight minutes until they are just as browned. Transfer to a bowl.
Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan, add the shallots and cook, stirring all the time, over medium heat until wilted and translucent, about four minutes, then add the butter and garlic; cook for just 30 seconds, then add the tomato paste, Worcestershire, thyme and rosemary, cooking for three or four minutes until the tomato paste is fragrant and slightly darker in colour.
Return the sliced creminis to the pan and toss to incorporate. Increase the heat to medium-high; pour in the sherry and cook for about two minutes, or until the alcohol cooks off. Season with the salt and pepper, then taste; the mixture should taste slightly salty. Remove from the heat; reserve about 1/2 cup for a garnish.
Gradually pour the mushroom-chicken stock into a large saucepan, being careful to leave any sediment behind. Stir in the remaining cremini mixture; bring to barely a boil over medium heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.
If you are blending the soup, remove the centre knob in the lid of the blender so steam can escape. Place a paper towel over the opening. Purée in batches, until velvety smooth.
Return all the puréed soup to the pan; warm it through over low heat. Stir in the chives and parsley. Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed.
Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with the reserved mushroom mixture.
Per serving: 170 calories, 3 grams protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fibre, 3 g sugar