This week’s post was inspired by a bowl of mushroom soup Cheryl had over the weekend at one of our favorite local French restaurants. As is often the case when she orders something really delicious she asks ‘can you make this?’ Of course I can, dear. For you, anything. One pot of creamy mushroom soup coming up!
Now, I’ll confess, I’d never actually made a mushroom soup before. But I’m pretty good at making soups so I didn’t think it would be too difficult. I had a good idea and a quick scan of the interwebz confirmed it would be a pretty simple endeavor. I did come across an interesting technique in the way of thickening a mushroom soup: using toasted bread. When I stopped to think about this, it of course made perfect sense. Using bread to thicken soups has been going on as long as bread has been getting stale. Think ribollita.
For a simple soup it has a great mushroom flavor. As you may remember, I am a big proponent of using water instead of stock in my soups in order to get the flavor of the ingredients into the soup. And I think soups with one, big, main ingredient benefit greatly from this practice. Do you want your mushroom soup tasting like chicken or mushrooms? Mushrooms of course, right? Right.
But you still need to develop the soup. Cheryl taste tested before I had seasoned and finished it and remarked it tasted simple, like mushroom water. Uh yeah well it’s not finished and that’s what it’s supposed to taste like. Then I seasoned it, added a little more cream and finished it off with some vermouth to give it a little body (forgot I actually had some sherry or I’d have used that instead). When she tasted the soup again she said it was much much better. Yes honey, I know.
And just to really amp things up a little, I made some truffle croutons to go with the soup. We brought back one of those little jars of black truffles in oil from our Tuscan vacation so I brushed the oil on a slice of bread, topped with some minced truffle and toasted in the oven with the pieces I used for thickening. Um yeah, you know it was good. However, when I was heating up the soup the next day I decided to stir in some smoky Spanish paprika which is also very delicious! The smokiness goes great with the earthiness of the mushrooms. If you don’t have truffle bits this is an excellent option. This one’s definitely a keeper.
Mushroom Soup (6-8 servings)
- 1 lb cremini mushrooms (cleaned, sliced and chopped)
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbs butter
- ¼ C white wine
- 5 C water (or vegetable stock/broth)
- 3 slices toasted bread, crusts removed
- ¾ C heavy cream
- 1 Tbs dry vermouth/sherry
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Truffle Croutons OR Spanish pimenton
Pre-heat the oven to 300°F. Place the pieces of bread in the oven and toast for an hour. If you want to make flavored croutons, like truffle croutons, brush a piece of bread with some flavored oil or truffle butter or compound butter and toast with the other pieces. Cut up and set aside for garnishing the soup.
In a large pot, melt the butter and add the shallots. After cooking for a couple of minutes add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until all the water has been released from the mushrooms and cooked off so the pot bottom is dry.
Add the white wine and once again cook until dry.
Add the water and bring to a simmer.
Break up the toasted bread into pieces and toss into the soup. Stir in ½ C of the cream.
When the bread soaks up enough of the soup and becomes soft puree with your immersion blender if you have one. If not, process in a food processor.
When the soup has been pureed to the desired smoothness mix in the remaining ¼ C of cream and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the vermouth. Ladle into bowls, top with the truffle croutons, and enjoy.