Many years ago, I had a bowl of mushroom soup
in a restaurant that was simply spectacular
and I really wanted to know how to make it. It was made with large chunks of mushroom
and the base was somewhat thick and creamy in texture, without being overly rich. So I pleaded with the chef
for a time, trying to extract said recipe
. It was to no avail; she would not part with it. Some people are like that. Oh well
As the years passed, I tried several times to duplicate it from likely-looking recipes, but the results were always disappointing.
Yesterday, I was wandering around the produce department of a very large supermarket, on the verge of leaving because I was thoroughly irritated. The source of my irritation was someone sitting on the balcony overlooking the store, strumming a guitar, delivering off-key renderings of Christmas carols and old Elton John songs into a microphone. There was no escaping it.
Just as he broke into the refrain, An' I guess that’s why they call it the blues, I came across two packages of white button mushrooms on sale and thought perhaps I would have one last go at duplicating the soup I’d enjoyed so much many years ago. Reminiscing about soup is as melancholy as I can get, even when besieged with Christmas music and love songs. So I bought the two packages of white button mushrooms, a bag full of cremini, two portobello and some dried porcini and left posthaste.
This morning, I cleaned, chopped and sautéed the button mushrooms and portobello stems in a little butter and added salt while cooking. I blended them with a little water and poured the mixture into a soup pot. I also reconstituted a handful of porcini mushrooms and blended them along with the soaking liquid, adding that to the soup pot. I made an incredible mess at one point, because I thought I could get away without putting the lid on the blender, but a plug of mushroom bits that had wrapped itself around the blade suddenly leapt out of the jug and covered the entire counter (note to self and others…always put the lid on the blender).
After cleaning up, the portobello were chopped into chunks, the cremini sliced and both sautéed before adding them to the soup. I adjusted the consistency by adding some water and then tasted it. The flavour was rich and deep, and quite creamy without the addition of milk or cream, but I added a teaspoon of cream to provide the big molecule sensation that dairy products provide when they pass over the tongue. A little more salt and some black pepper, and nothing else was needed.
It is, in fact, much better than the soup I had years ago, and infinitely better than any I’ve had from a can.
So that’s it – mushroom soup. I figured it out. Yay!