Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wild Mushroom Soup [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: easy
Time: 20 minutes prep, 40 minutes to cook and reduce
Serves: 6 heartily

Sourced from an amalgam of recipes--Joy of Cooking, my Cordon Bleu class years ago--I made this soup for my contribution to our Cooking With Friends (CWF) Thanksgiving gathering yesterday.

CWF is a group of 35 fabulous cooks here in New Albany, all of whom operate from the heart in the kitchen, know when and how to rescue a failed sauce (or, on rare occasions, when to dump it and start fresh), and treasure quick, simple dishes as much as time-consuming, labor-intensive ethnic and family recipes.

We usually make the meal start to finish at someone's home, but yesterday we all brought a dish. So many wonderful, fresh ideas for holiday meals: Kate Thomas's grapefruit salad with "glass" sugar cracked on top, Sheryl Zangardi's shells stuffed with leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy. "Sounds gross," she said as she described the dish to the group, "but it's really pretty good." Not just good--amazing! CWF's founder, Marilu Faber, brought an arranged salad of butter lettuce, pomegranate seeds and ripe persimmons (most of us, self included, had never worked with persimmons). We always learn cool stuff from Marilu.

When it was my turn to briefly explain my recipe, I mentioned how I had reduced the chicken stock, wine and sherry down. If you're using homemade stock and have already reduced it, you'll need less time for this step.

And here's a cheat. You can use canned stock in the reduction process and it's still very good. But to make it sublime, you need those--wait for it--frozen homemade stock cubes I keep raving about (see my Mama Tommy's blog post).

Hear that? That's the sound of me twisting your arm to make stock.

Wild Mushroom Soup

2 pounds mushrooms, including at least 12 ounces wild, stems removed, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
4 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (see my notes above on cheating)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, plus more for garnish if desired, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
5 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

If you're using canned stock, put it in a stock pot with sherry and wine, and the bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and reduce the liquids for about 25 minutes.

Heat olive oil and butter in soup pot...

add shallots...

... and mushrooms.

Stir until mushrooms are wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add flour...

and cook for a minute, then add thyme. When flour taste has cooked out (four minutes or so), add the reduced stock and heavy cream.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, cool a bit, then puree in batches. Adjust seasonings, and reheat briefly before serving.

Suggested soundtrack: "Sechs Klavierstucke, #2 Intermezzo," by Johannes Brahms

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