Tuesday, January 08, 2013


I have a dim recollection of liking canned cream of mushroom soup when I was a kid, but I hadn’t thought much about it in 25 years or so. At some point I acquired a recipe for a hideous-yet-tasty pureed creamless mushroom-potato soup that’s vaguely similar in flavor, but when this “Wild Mushroom Soup” recipe from Ezra Pound Cake popped up in my Google Reader a couple of months ago, it seemed to fill a need I didn’t even know I’d felt. Instantly, I craved it. I didn’t expect it to replicate the canned stuff, and it doesn’t—it is, of course, much better. This sophisticated iteration is light on the dairy, more brothy than creamy (contrast it with Ina Garten’s no-doubt-delicious version, which contains a whole stick of butter, 1 cup of half-and-half, and 1 cup of cream), brightened with lemon juice and spiked with a bit of sherry.

I made the recipe as written, except that since shiitakes are more expensive and come in smaller packages at Trader Joe’s (and, honestly, I don’t like them quite as well), I used less of them (about 4 ounces) and more cremini. The original recipe says this is just fine; you can even use all cremini if you prefer. I’d maybe add a little fresh thyme next time, because it’s just so good with mushrooms, but overall we both really enjoyed this soup. It’s bound to be the one I turn to when the mushroom jones strikes again.

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
½ pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable or mushroom broth to make it vegetarian)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup dry sherry
¼ cup heavy cream
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh chives for garnish (about ¼ cup)

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven.

2. Add the onion and cook until soft and transparent.

3. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

5. Return the pan to low heat and pour in the broth, stirring constantly. Add the pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, and sherry.

6. Simmer the soup over medium heat for 10 minutes.

7. Add the cream and stir until the soup is hot. Add the cayenne and season with salt to taste. If the soup looks thinner than you’d like, you can remove half of it, puree it, and then return it to the pot.

8. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with chives.

Serves: 4
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Great; flavor gets better with time and it freezes well.

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