It was so cold here last weekend our house was 64 degrees F when we arrived home from our Washington/Vancouver/Victoria trip. I made tomato soup for lunch on Monday, just to warm everyone up. But there was an image in my mind from the food photography workshop that I kept returning to:
I decided I needed mushroom soup. The fact that the weather has warmed up considerably did not deter me. If you've followed here for a while you know I don't care for cold soup (gazpacho? why not just drink a glass of tomato juice?) So, on this now 75F day, I made a batch of cream of mushroom soup. Sadly, I could not find any morels for my soup. I used the freshest and best mushrooms I could find, a mixture of portabella, shiitake, and white, button mushrooms. I seasoned my soup with a little fresh sage and some sherry. To brighten the earthy flavor I added some lemon juice. Finely minced chives provide a little color, and a small amount of heavy cream smooths the texture perfectly. It's a great dinner party starter; invite your favorite mushroom forager and maybe you can make your soup with beautiful, seasonal morels.
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup light chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 cups milk
1 pound of mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped (use a variety of the freshest you can get, both wild and domestic, if possible) Reserve a few thin slices for garnish, if you like.
a generous teaspoon fresh sage, finely minced
a pinch of dried thyme leaves
2 to 3 teaspoons dry sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh lemon juice to taste
snipped fresh chives, for garnish
Melt the butter in a 3 1/2 quart heavy sauce over medium heat, whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook for a minute or two then add the shallots and garlic. Stir well and continue to cook another 2 minutes; take care not to brown the mixture. Add the stock and milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook gently, stirring all the while, until the liquid thickens somewhat. Season with salt to taste. Add the mushrooms, chopped sage, thyme, and sherry. Simmer gently, partially covered, until the mushrooms are completely tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender (take care to cover the lid with a towel just in case of an eruption of hot soup). If you prefer a very fine texture, strain the soup through a fine sieve. Return the soup to the rinsed-out soup pot and reheat. Add the cream, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and salt to taste. Ladle into soup bowls or mugs and top with additional mushroom slices ( you can leave then raw for a little variation in texture or saute them quickly just before serving). Sprinkle on a few snipped chives and serve.