Do you ever get sick of hearing me talk about movies? I know that half of my posts are a discussion of whatever movie I saw last, but Kramer and I take the Oscars very seriously, so we’re determined to see as many nominated movies as possible! Most recently, we saw The King’s Speech. I have to say, when we finally went to watch it, I was a little skeptical about how much I would like it. I will admit that I am partial to action movies; they are my first love and I don’t care who knows it. For example, Kramer and I are very excited to see The Mechanic, starring the incomparable Jason Statham and Ben Foster. After knowing that about me, you’d understand why I wasn’t in a huge rush to see The King’s Speech. However, I absolutely adored it. Colin Firth killed it; I have never seen him play such a lofty role and he really gave it his all. Geoffrey Rush, of course, was phenomenal, as always. The two of them had incredible chemistry on screen, and they each put forth such a fantastic performance. It’s no surprise that the film has been receiving so many awards and that Colin Firth won the Golden Globe for Best Actor this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he picked up the Oscar for this role, too, although I would love to see Jesse Eisenberg win (but I know that probably won’t happen).
Either way: soup! Kramer has recently discovered his love for mushrooms. I have always loved mushrooms, and I am of the belief that they make almost any savory food even better. Kramer’s first mind-changing experience with mushrooms came from Craftsteak in Las Vegas. We had the hen of the woods mushrooms, which were just out of this world. I’m sure they were cooked in butter or truffles or truffle butter or something equally delicious – maybe some kind of animal fat? Either way, from then on, Kramer has been a mushroom advocate. Nothing has made me happier as far as his culinary tastes, because mushrooms are so versatile and delicious. When he suggested that I make a simple mushroom soup, though, I was kind of surprised. That’s a whole lot of mushroom flavor! I went with it, hoping that he would be as enthusiastic about mushrooms on this day as the day that he first had hen of the woods mushrooms. Indeed, he was, and finished his whole bowl (and went back for seconds, if I recall correctly). The secret to this soup is to use some dried porcini mushrooms, which, after soaking them, gives you a wonderful broth that allows the mushrooms to really shine. It’s almost like a compounded mushroom flavor – what’s not to like? There’s nothing fancy about this soup, aside from using two different kind of mushrooms (and in truth, you can use as many different kinds as you like). It’s simple, yet delicious, creamy, and did I mention completely vegetarian? It freezes well and can keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days, so it’s the perfect weeknight meal for when you want to eat light but still be satisfied.
Clean your fresh mushrooms by peeling away any dirt with a small, sharp paring knife. I’ve read that you don’t want to wash fresh mushrooms, as it takes away some of their flavor. Instead, just wipe them with a paper towel or a cloth to get off any dirt.
Saute your shallots, then add in your mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes, and add another 1/2 tablespoon of butter or so, if you’re so inclined, as I often am. Add in the garlic and stir for a minute, until fragrant.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- ¼ cup white wine
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups fresh mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced thinly (save a few for a garnish)
- ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms (reconstituted in 2 cups boiling water)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup crème fraiche (or sour cream, but crème fraiche is so much better and can be found in any supermarket)
- First, you need to “rehydrate” your dried porcini mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in a medium sized bowl. In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Cover and allow them to sit for 1-2 hours. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid, but reserve the liquid to add to your soup later. Strain the liquid to remove any dirt that may have been lingering on the mushrooms.
- Now, you’re ready to cook. Heat the butter over medium heat in a medium sized pot. Saute the shallots until they are translucent, about 5 minutes, then add in the white wine and cook until it is reduced by half. Add in the garlic and stir, for a minute, until fragrant. Add in the fresh mushrooms, the reconstituted mushrooms, thyme, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or so, until the mushrooms start to become browned. Add another pad of butter, should you be so inclined.
- Add in the porcini mushroom broth and the vegetable broth. Turn the heat up to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to medium or medium-high, depending on your burner, and cook for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Remove the soup from the heat, and using either a food processor, a blender, or an immersion blender, puree your soup in batches. Don’t worry if it isn’t completely smooth – a few bits of mushroom in the soup adds a nice texture. Just puree it enough for it to resemble a soup and not a stew.
- Return the pureed soup to the pot and turn the heat to medium-low to keep warm. Place the ¼ cup of crème fraiche in a small bowl, and add about ½ cup of the soup to it. Whisk to combine. This will temper the crème fraiche, so that when you add it, it goes in smoothly and doesn’t form clumps. Add the tempered crème fraiche to the soup and stir to combine. Taste, and add salt or pepper if needed. Serve into 3 or 4 bowls, depending on if you are eating it as a meal or as a side, garnish with some of the fresh sliced mushrooms you set aside earlier, and enjoy.