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The whispers of mushroom soup were calling to me. Indeed, a hot bowl of soup sounded good as a starter. I was envisioning a thick puréed soup. Since I’m not a fan of potato laden soups, the heartiness from the mushrooms and onion were going to give me the satisfaction without the addition of any other filler.

Mushrooms are great to have on hand. Each month, mushrooms always seem to make their way into my grocery cart. I usually pick up three to four different types varying from shiitake, maitake, bunashimeji, enoki, king oyster or oyster – mostly the commonplace Asian varieties rather than the familiarly cultivated brown or white. I stow them away in the fridge in deli meat drawer to be used for quick and easy dishes. I think they are a fantastic substitute for meat.

In the pantry, I also keep dried porcini and shiitake in air tight containers to be used on a whim. I so love these little fungi in soups – they are packed full with flavor! I’m all about flavor and enticing the palate.

For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple – crimini, porcini, and onion.

Serves: 2

3/4 pounds crimini cleaned and sliced
1 oz. dried porcini, reconstituted
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons if needed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon pepper paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons sherry
10 whole peppercorns
Salt and pepper to taste
Dollop creme fraiche, optional

Soak porcini mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover, about 15 minutes until soft. Reserve liquid and add to soup. Strain liquid through a coffee filter in case of sediment on the bottom of bowl.

Clean and slice mushrooms and chop onions. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until hot on medium-high heat. Add crimini and porcini mushrooms and allow moisture to evaporate and brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add sherry, stir to allow for sherry to evaporate, then season lightly with salt and add garlic powder. Add onions and additional oil to pan if needed and continue to cook until they become light and translucent, about 5-7 more minutes. Take off heat and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, add broth, water, mushroom liquid, bay leaf, peppercorns, pepper paste, tomato paste, and mushroom and onion mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Discard peppercorns and bay leaf. With an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.