Mushroom soup conversations last year in this column elicited this recipe from Jennifer Whyte, who lives on Islesboro. It is just plain delicious.
For years I didn’t know that I liked mushroom soup. My mom liked it but always used canned because she and Dad were the only ones who ate it, and it was easier to heat up one can of it for them, and a different can of soup that my sister and I would eat. Usually my mom did not cook separate meals for any family member, but she seemed to understand that mushrooms were a little kid-controversial. I must say that the white pasty stuff in her bowl with the gray blobs in it didn’t look very appealing. She didn’t use mushrooms in cooking; in those days it seems that all mushrooms were canned and not all that terrific anyway.
Then when I was in my late 20s, a co-worker brought to work some homemade mushroom soup that his wife made from fresh mushrooms and I took a taste. It was a revelation. I’ve been a mushroom soup enthusiast since.
There are so many different fresh mushrooms available now in the stores, some even fairly exotic, and with the addition of dried wild ones, the range of possibilities for soups and sauces is really generous. I used mixed dried wild ones, plus plain button and Baby Bellas, a miniportabella. Don’t be shy about mixing them up.
This recipe calls for pureeing the soup at the end. Around our house, we like things chunky, so I pureed only half of the pot full. Suit your own taste on this.
Wild Mushroom Soup
Makes 6-8 servings.
1 ounce dried wild mushrooms (or more to taste)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 pounds button or other fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons flour
½ cup Madeira or sherry
½ cup sour cream
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish
Rinse the dried mushrooms in cold water, tossing and shaking to remove sand. Put into a small saucepan with 1 cup stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let soak for 40 minutes.
In a heavy soup pot, melt butter over a medium heat and cook onions until they are softened and golden. Stir in garlic and fresh mushrooms and cook until they soften, then add salt, pepper, thyme, nutmeg and flour. Cook stirring 3 to 5 minutes.
Drain soaked dried mushrooms through a sieve and add them to pot. Strain soaking liquid through a piece of cloth or filter paper to remove grit, and add it and the rest of the stock and Madeira to the pot and cook for half an hour or so over medium until mushrooms are very tender.
Puree soup in blender or food processor. Put back in pot, add sour cream, and bring back up to temperature. Serve garnished or not.