Tuesday, November 10, 2009

creamy mushroom soup with sherry

mushroom soup with roasted mushrooms
five days after larry returned
from chicago,
he was tasked with spending
the day in washington d.c.
he was to wake up early,
catch the 7 am train down
and the 6 pm back up.

for my part,
i had been actively
collecting different types
of mushroom for the past
several days, along with
dried mixed wild mushrooms,
and i knew that i wanted to
greet larry home on this
especially cold and rainy
fall day with a bowl of
mushroom soup.

but cut to that evening.
i was in the midst of
work craziness and larry
was able to catch
the 5 o'clock train.
when i got the text around
7:35 that he was about
25 minutes from pulling into
penn station, i looked at the
pile of raw, still uncleaned
and unsliced mushrooms.
and then i kind of panicked.

i had been craving mushroom soup
for quite a long time.
first i found the dried mushrooms
at an excellent price.
then food52 ran their
and then shiitakes went on sale
the same weekend that i found
beautiful creminis for what i still think,
is a very good deal.

so then, i did what i always do:
research like crazy. i found recipes
that were thick,
bowls of clear broth dotted
with ingredients,
soups without dairy and those
so brimming with cream,
i wondered if you could even
taste the mushrooms.

when i was done, i realized two things:
none of the recipes were exactly what i
was looking for and if i wanted a delicious,
truly mushroom soup, i better use
a ridiculous amount of mushrooms.

and, so, larry returned home
at almost 9 pm to a very hot
kitchen and me muttering things
like crazy and too many mushrooms.
whose recipe is it, larry asked?
to which i stepped down from the chair
i had been standing on - directly above
the stove to take a good picture -
and said, my own. i made it up. i'm a fool.
a whole lot of mushrooms
i think the mushroom fumes may have
gotten to me. it wasn't really that bad.
but when you start out after 7:30 at night
with 40 ounces of mushrooms,
each one demanding of you to
clean them gently
slice them nicely
saute them deliciously,
and still expect you to take their
picture frequently, maybe you don't
love all those mushrooms
you once so lovingly chose from the lot.

after they had been sliced, i had an epiphany.
they were never going to saute well in
a stock pot. instead, they would steam,
rendering themselves flabby and flavorless.
so i knew that my best bet was to
dirty another pan by sauteing them first
in the largest skillet i own, deglazing
and then transferring the whole mixture
to a saucepot with broth.

that was my aha! moment.
the next one was about
1 minute later when i looked
at the mushrooms sitting well above
the rim of the skillet and thought
hmm, now what?
at that point, i had no choice but to
remove half the mushrooms from
the skillet, brown the ones that
stayed and then switch them out
with the raw slices. when they were
all cooked, i tossed them back into
the skillet, added several splashes
of sherry and let them sizzle.
that's when larry came home.
sherry glazed sauteed mushrooms
from where i was standing -
high on that well-positioned chair -
i saw the kitchen for the first time
through a newcomers eyes.
several cabinet doors open,
vodka on the counter.
(i swear, i was looking for the sherry.)
a few mushrooms had fallen to the floor -
this was the first time i noticed.
oh goodness, i made a mess.

it's fine. every thing's fine,
i promised. i brought the mushrooms
and broth to a boil, along with the
soaking mixture from the dried mushrooms
and set to work making the kitchen
not look like the laboratory of a lunatic.
strained mushroom soaking liquid
pureeing the soup was
a last minute decision -
up until that time, i still thought
about leaving it brothy and
heavily dotted with mushrooms.
but, i'm so glad that i yet again
pulled out the immersion blender.
the hot liquid was transformed from
a simple fall soup to an
creamy mixture that was earthy and filling.

the best part?
i didn't need any milk or cream.
i had bought a carton of milk,
just in case. but when i tasted
the soup, it didn't need it.
i just added a bit more broth
to thin the whole thing out,
tasted it and realized
the pot was fine and that
it was time for me to walk away.

or, um, spoon them into bowls
so that larry could finally eat
dinner. and then (then!),
i topped the soup with
one of my favorite things:
roasted mushrooms.
oh! these are totally optional
and to be honest,
soup is probably not the best
dish to let them strut their stuff,
but wow are they good.

like everything else that benefits
from roasting, they lose all of
their moisture so that their
mushroom flavor is completely
concentrated. they become crispy
and amazingly decadent and you'll
swear you're eating something
so much more than a slice of mushroom.

when i spoke of this soup
the next day, i chose not to mention
that by the time
the picture taking was done
and the goat cheese toasts
for dunking were made,
we didn't eat it until close to 10.
or the fact that when we finished
eating, i ran into the kitchen first
saying, see, it's not so bad in here,
right? oh, don't look on that side.

but instead, i focused on
the soup: full of mushrooms
would be an understatement.
but thick, rich and exactly
what i crave to cut a chill,
make me forget
that rain is pounding
hard on my window,
and remember
that my husband is back home
would be right on point.
mushrooms - straight from the crate
creamy mushroom soup with sherry
i think this recipe took me a long time because let's face it: i was making it up as i went along. by far, the longest part of the process is cleaning and slicing the mushrooms. after that, it's a straight shoot. i meant it when i said that the soup doesn't need the milk, but i'll add one caveat to that. this soup is absolutely for mushroom lovers and if you're feeding this to someone who is eh about them, this might be a bit intense. in that case, mellow it with some milk (or half-and-half) (or cream). still know, it's a rich soup.

and for the garnish - i splurged and bought two chanterelles (which i halved) for roasting and adding to the top. i also reserved two large shiitakes (which i stemmed and quartered) and three or four creminis (which i thickly sliced). i tossed them all on the pan, along with some olive oil and kosher salt. after about 18 minutes at 400˚f, tossing twice, they were golden and crisp. just be sure to keep an eye on them - going from golden to burnt in a flash is one of their favorite party tricks.

1 cup dried mixed wild mushrooms
2 large shallots, peeled and diced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
24 ounces cremini mushrooms, wiped cleaned, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
10 ounces white button mushrooms, wiped cleaned, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 cup pale sherry, divided
7-8 cups chicken stock

place dried mushrooms in medium heatproof bowl. in small saucepot, bring 2 cups water to a boil; pour over mushrooms. let sit 30 minutes. using slotted spoon, remove mushrooms from broth. chop. place coffee strainer carefully into measuring cup. carefully (so that the filter doesn't move) pour soaking liquid into cup. the dirt and grit from the mushrooms will stay in the strainer. reserve chopped rehydrated mushrooms and strained liquid.

[i found this tip in my travels when reading about balthazar's method for making mushroom soup. it was great.]

meanwhile, in the largest skillet you have over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. add shallots and cook 10 minutes, or until softened. add garlic and cook 2 minutes, more, stirring constantly, or until golden brown.

add 1 tablepoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter; increase heat to medium-high. let melt and heat up. add half the mushrooms to the pan; stir to coat and season with kosher salt and pepper. increase heat to high. cook mushrooms 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring often. (they will seem like they've absorbed all their moisture, then they'll release water and then they'll start to brown.) transfer cooked mushrooms to a plate. repeat with remaining olive oil, remaining butter and remaining mushrooms.

add the first batch of mushrooms back to the skillet along with the dried mushrooms. remove the skillet from the heat and add 3/4 cup sherry. carefully place the skillet back over the flame. let cook 1 minute, or until the sherry is reduced to a glaze, stirring to release everything stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

transfer mushroom mixture to large saucepot. add 6 cups chicken broth and mushroom soaking liquid. over high heat, bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer 25 minutes, or until mushrooms are very soft. using immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. (or use a blender and puree, very carefully by pressing on lid with a dishtowel, in batches.) add 1 cup chicken stock (or more) to thin out the soup to your desired consistency. stir in remaining sherry. reheat on low heat, if necessary.


jenblossom said...

some of the very best things come about because you're making it up as you go along :)

Larry said...

i used to not like mushrooms, now i walk into mountains of them and im happy about it, who knew?

brooke said...

jenblossom: yes, i agree. as long as you find patience for the process somewhere along the way. :)

larry - it's one of my greatest accomplishments. now we just have to tackle coconut and chicken liver.