I usually do not like making cream of "anything" soup for health reasons, there are a host of wonderful soups that are healthy and just as delicious. But occasionally I am asked to do so by a client and as a chef I am challenged to put aside my biases and make a soup that is still relatively healthy.
Mushroom soups are always wonderfully flavored. the deep forest flavors are brought out by the sautéing and the slow simmering techniques resulting in a deeply flavored soup. I used button mushrooms here, but you can add a few dried or fresh mushrooms (oyster, chanterelle, shiitake, porcini or other of your choice) of any variety for a deeper or more nuanced flavor.
This is a simple soup that has wonderful flavors and is always enjoyed by my guests. The mushroom "umami" is complimented by the basil and the smooth soup is textured by the fried mushrooms. Layers of flavors and wonderful texture make this soup delicious and perfect for those cold days.
This was one of my early cookbooks, one that I have cooked at least half the recipes from. There are soups from around the world, including delicious purées like this one to elaborate one-dish meals. This is one of those books that will make you fall in love with soup!
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
1 lb button or cremini mushrooms
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons cream + to drizzle
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Fresh basil, to garnish
Take 3/4 of the mushrooms and all the stems and roughly chop. Save the caps of the rest of the mushrooms for garnish.
Heat a soup pot with the butter and add the onions. Sauté on medium heat with a pinch of salt till soft and translucent, do not allow them to take on any color.
Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and continue to sauté till the liquids have emerged. Close the pot and simmer with the mushroom juices for about 5 minutes, till the mushrooms look cooked, they should no longer be white.
Add the flour and basil and mix in and toss for 2 minutes. Add the water or stock and milk and stir to form a light sauce. bring to a boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes in a closed pot stirring every 4-5 minutes. If you feel the liquids are too much to make a soup with the thin consistency, leave the pot open. When done remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool.
While the soup is cooling, cook the mushroom caps. Cut the mushroom caps to very small dice. Add the butter to a frying pan and add the mushrooms and sauté on medium heat with a pinch of salt and pepper. The mushrooms will give out their juices and will fry. Fry till lightly golden. As a variation, you can add a small drizzle of balsamic vinegar and toss the mushrooms. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Purée the soup with a hand blender or in a small blender till very smooth. Taste and adjust salt. you are looking for a soup that has a light consistency, that of light cream.
Serve hot topped with a spoon of the sautéed mushrooms and a garnish of fresh basil.