10 September 2011
Back in the City and Wild Mushroom Soup
After the exciting travels of summer vacation, coming back to the city feels a little small (and very smelly). Still, there's another kind of excitement I've always felt when starting over again in the fall. It's the excitement of new notebooks, back-to-school clothes, rows of sharpened pencils and crisp new textbooks that haven't yet driven me crazy. And even though I'm not in school anymore, I always feel a sense of newness in the fall. The theater season starts again, bringing with it new projects, new plays to see, new workshops. People come back from summer vacation. The markets are filling up with fall foods.
Not mention fall brings both D's birthday and mine. Today is D's and since we'll be with friends tonight, I made a special birthday dinner last night to celebrate together. One drawback of being in a couple is that there are certain foods you almost never get to eat because your partner doesn't like them. For me, those foods include spinach, fresh ginger, and anything with wasabi; for D. it's mushrooms. I don't like mushrooms. I appreciate the flavor, but I can't stand the texture and don't have much experience cooking with them. But of course, for D's birthday, I knew mushrooms would be involved.
I looked at a couple different wild mushroom soup recipes to come up with this one. Most helpful was Jaime Oliver's The Real Mushroom Soup, and I give full credit to him for the lemon zest garnish that really makes this dish special.
(for 4 people)
2 Tbsp olive oil
about 600g (21oz) of mixed wild mushrooms (I put in girolles, oyster mushrooms, trompettes de la mort and then some regular cultivated mushrooms because buying wild mushrooms is expensive! You can mix whatever you like best.)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage (if you have fresh herbs, even better!)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
fresh ground pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. When hot, pour in the mushrooms and stir for 1 or 2 minutes. Add garlic, shallots, thyme and sage. The mushrooms will start to give off liquid. Simmer, stirring until the liquid is mostly evaporated. At this point, you might want to reserve a couple tablespoons of the mushroom mix for garnish.
Add stock and season to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Blend the soup in batches, or directly in the pot with a stick blender.
For the garnish: Mix together the zest of 1 lemon with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of sea salt and a couple grinds of pepper. When you serve the soup, spoon a little bit of this mixture in the middle of each bowl, place some of the reserved wild mushrooms prettily on top (I'm still working on the "prettily" part, but I'm sure you'll do better) and pour on a tablespoon or so of heavy cream to taste. Enjoy!