I've had a lifelong obsession with mushrooms and mushroom soup. It started with those Campbell cans in my childhood and just kept going. At the worst of times, I'd eat the gloop straight from the can without even waiting to cook it!
As I got older, I moved on to "pimping up" my store-bought mushroom soup with any kind of exotic shrooms I could get my hands on. Being based in Singapore at the time, this usually meant locally-grown versions of Japanese varieties such as shitake, enoki and nameki. It got to the point where my Mum's mushroom supplier knew the ins-and-outs of my study and work-travel schedule!
As such, I can't believe I learnt how to make this only last year, after I moved to London. I think partly it speaks to the quality and range of store-bought options out there, but I decided to learn how to make it for myself in an effort to gradually reduce unnecessary chemicals and preservatives from my diet.
A good nudge to finally hunker down and document this was Joelen's Culinary Adventures's September blogging event with a stock / soup pot theme.
I've made this a few times now with a few variations, and what I really like about it is that you can make it as budget and health-friendly or not as you like. Budget-wise, I balance it out by using relatively basic mushrooms for the base, then use more exotic mushrooms for a chunky garnish.
Makes 6-8 servings
For the Base:
2 large white or yellow onion, finely chopped
2-3 large sticks celery, finely chopped
600g mix of field / chestnut / portobello mushrooms. Or porcini, if you feel like splashing out
One small bunch fresh sage, finely chopped / 0.5 tablespoon dried sage flakes
One small bunch fresh thyme, leaves stripped / 0.5 tablespoon dried thyme flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
0.5 cup dry white wine (optional)
Olive oil, preferably organic
2-3 tablespoons wholewheat flour
1.5 litre chicken stock (substitute with vegetable stock if you require)
0.5 litre whole milk, preferably organic. (I've tried this with heavy-cream and skimmed milk, and decided whole milk is a good middle-ground)
Salt and coarse-ground black pepper to taste
For the Garnish:
A handful of exotic mushooms of choice per serving. If they're small enough, leave them whole. If they're large, slice them up. In this version I used a mix of dried wild mushrooms I bought from France. If you're using dried mushrooms, soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes. Then drain the water but set aside; you can add it to the soup stock as it will be mushroom-flavoured
A sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves
A few drops of extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
Fry it Up
- If you're a mushroom purist, you clean your mushrooms with a mushroom brush or a damp cloth, rather than by rinsing under cold water. I leave this up to you
- Chop your mix of soup-base mushrooms into even-sized cubes
- Turn the stove-top heat under your stock pot to medium-high
- Add a few generous glugs of olive oil to the stock pot, let it warm for about 30 seconds
- Add the onions, and fry for ~ 2 minutes, until they just start to soften
- Add the celery, and fry for another 3-5 minutes, until they start to soften
- Add the soup-base mushrooms, sage, thyme, paprika and a sprinkle of salt, and fry for 3-5 minutes until it's an even mix
- Sprinkle the flour evenly into the stock pot and fry for 1 minute until evenly coated
Soup it Up
- Add the white wine, stir briefly, and let simmer for ~5 minutes
- Add the chicken or vegetable stock, let it come to a boil, then turn flame down to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, boil your stock separately, then add it to the stock pot and turn the flame down to low and simmer. Don't forget to add your mushroom-water from rehydrating dried mushrooms!
- Stir occasionally to make sure that the bottom of the pot doesn't burn
- Take the stock pot off the stove (be careful!)
- Use a hand blender and blitz the contents of the stock pot until you get a mixture that is as smooth or chunky as you like. Alternatively, use a regular blender and blitz it in batches
- Add the milk, and stir in evenly
- At this point, add your exotic mushrooms of choice into the stock pot, stir gently just to make sure the contents are at an even temperature
- Add salt and black pepper to taste
Serve it Up!
- Distribute the soup into individual bowls
- Add a sprinkle of thyme, fresh-ground black pepper and few drops of extra virgin olive oil
I usually make a batch and eat through it all in week (great for bringing to work for lunch if you have a lock-and-lock box) so I haven't yet tried freezing this. Let me know if you have advice on how long this is likely to be good for if frozen.