all grown up...cream of mushroom soup

It started last Fall. And now I can't stop. At least once a week I want a different one. I am completely obsessed. I love the entire ritual...picking out the fresh produce, herbs, spices and sometimes even butter and cream! The peeling, chopping, dicing, sauteing, the aroma as it floats through the entire house as if carried on angels wings, the stirring, waiting, blending together and finally the eating. I love soup! I could eat it for every meal and I have yet to meet one I don't like.
When I was little I loved cream of mushroom soup, yep the one out of the little red and white can. None of the other kids I knew would eat it, I think it was a "texture thing", preferring chicken noodle or tomato. But I loved cream of mushroom, my Mom bought it for herself making the mistake of letting me taste hers and I was a believer. This seemed kind of strange since I was kind of a picky eater but then few things about me make sense.

Anyway, I went to the store to buy ingredients for French onion soup and came home with over two pounds of mushrooms. Button (cute as), crimini (rich & earthy), shiitake ($29.99 a pound), oyster (beautiful & fragrant), and portobella (crimini in disguise) could a person resist? They were beautiful. So I made cream of mushroom soup, not out of the can!

Cream of Mushroom Soup
from The Balthazar Cookbook
1 ounce dried mushrooms (porcini, morels or shitakes)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs sage
1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 pound shitake mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Soak the dry mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water for 20 to 30 minutes, until plump.
  2. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove grit and reserve, along with the reconstituted mushrooms, until needed.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium flame. Bundle the rosemary and sage together and tie with kitchen twine. When the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on both side to infuse the oil.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.
  5. Turn the flame to high and add the white mushrooms and shitakes.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes, during which the mushrooms will give off their liquid (which should evaporate quickly due to the high heat) and deflate significantly. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add the chicken stock and the dried mushrooms along with the soaking water. 
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the herbs, then add the cream and butter. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot and keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve.


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