Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cream of 7-Mushroom Soup

I made this for a dinner party we threw last night. All I'm going to say is that it's really, REALLY easy. And delicious.

All the stuff:

Take the packet of (optional) dried mushrooms and soak them in warm water. This was a 1 oz package (I think) from Trader Joe's.
Fresh mushrooms, click picture to see the different types. I am looking for a 2 lb. yield AFTER cleaning and trimming. You can mix and match to your heart's content but don't overlook the plain old white button mushrooms...they have a hearty, mushroom-y flavor which is a fine, affordable backbone for this soup.
Start with the portobello. Use a spoon and scrape out the black 'gills' from the mushroom's underside. Before:After:
Use a knife (or a fingernail) to peel off the brown skin on top. Before:After:
Chop and set aside:
Here's an oyster mushroom:
Pick through the undersides for any leftover insects. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

Button mushrooms. Clean with water and salt. Controversial, I know. You'll hear people talk about how you should never clean mushrooms with water because they act as sponges but that myth has been dispelled in this book. I run water over the mushrooms, sprinkle with coarse salt, use the salt to scour the mushroom's exterior and rinse well.
Quarter the button mushrooms.

Clean and quarter the cremini mushrooms.

Slice two large shallots.
Clean and slice one leek. Dice half of an onion.
Peel and cube two medium Russet potatoes.

Melt butter (or duck fat!) in a pot. About 5 tablespoons.
Add leeks, shallots and onion. Add salt and sweat (cook over medium to low heat without coloring the ingredients)....5 minutes or so.See how they wilt?
Toss in the potato and cook for another 5 minutes:
Add the mushrooms (both fresh and dried...squeeze out the excess liquid from the dried) and cook for 8-10 minutes..until the mushrooms have started to exude their liquid:
Add 1.5 teaspoons of dried thyme.
Add about 10 cups of liquid. Use a combination of water, chicken stock, vegetable stock. It's up to you.
Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Let cool for 20 minutes.
Blend in batches and strain through a medium mesh strainer.
Cool and refrigerate.
When you are ready to serve, slowly reheat the soup over medium low heat. Add whipping cream. I added somewhere around a cup. The soup will already have a nice texture because of the potato and because it's pureed but the little bit of cream goes a long way.

I took some trumpet royale mushrooms,
some additional oyster mushrooms and cut them into bite sized chunks. I then sauteed them until golden. I placed a spoonful of the sauteed mushrooms into the bottom of the bowl and ladled some soup over them. Some freshly picked thyme leaves for garnish.

Time- About 20 minutes of prep. 40 minutes cooking and blending time. Reheating takes 15 minutes or so. Really, only the prep time is active. The rest is fairly passive.

Food Cost:
Mushrooms- $12.86
Chicken Broth- $3.00
Potatoes- $0.40
Leek- $1.61
Onions/Shallots- $0.50
Cream- $1.20
Total- $19.56--Going to get approximately 10 servings out of this so $1.95 for a large bowl. This seems a bit expensive so, for the REALLY budget conscious, use nothing but button mushrooms for the soup. This would've cut the mushroom cost down to $3.80. Then, for garnish, use a variety of wild and cultivated mushrooms. This will be what I do the next time I make this soup.

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