|a deeply soothing mushroom soup|
Skill level: Easy
Preparation time: 1 hour
50g butter (or a mixture of butter and olive oil)
2 x onions, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
350g chestnut mushrooms (or a mixture of chestnut, field and wild mushrooms)
1 tsp dill, dried (you can use fresh dill, but this really does work well with dried!)
½ tsp thyme, dried or 1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne
600ml vegetable stock
140g soured cream or skimmed milk (I tend to use the milk as it has less fat!)
salt and freshly ground pepper
a glug of sherry (to taste – optional. Actually it’s not really optional because mushrooms and sherry have the most delightful affinity and it would be truly criminal to omit it . . . unless of course you are catering for a culturally diverse lot or a bunch of reformed drinkers . . . )
juice of 1 lemon
soured cream (optional)
- Heat the butter or butter and oil mixture in a large saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes.
- Wipe and quarter the mushrooms and add these to the pan, along with the ½ teaspoon of salt. (The salt will help to draw out all the mushroom juices and make the end result taste intensely mushroomy.) Add the dill, thyme, paprika and cayenne. Stir and cover with the saucepan lid.
- Turn the heat down very low and cook for 7-10 minutes. (One of my recipe books also suggests covering the mushroom mixture with some buttered paper, before putting the lid on because, according to Sarah Brown in Vegetarian Kitchen, “this extracts a great deal of flavour from both the onion and the mushrooms and also draws out the juices, which improve the final quality of the soup.”)
- Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 3-5 minutes.
- Allow the soup to cool slightly, before puréeing. (I also tend to then put the soup through a sieve to ensure a finer texture).
- Return the puréed soup to a clean saucepan and add salt and freshly ground pepper. At this stage you should also add the sherry if using or the lemon juice. Slowly heat the soup through.
- Add the sour cream or skimmed milk if using. Be careful not to let the soup boil as the cream will curdle
- Pour the hot soup into bowls and garnish with a swirl of soured cream.
- Use brown (chestnut) mushrooms for an intense flavour. White button mushrooms have a less robust flavour so I would add a generous splash of mushroom essence or Worcestershire sacue. You could also use a mixture of large field or portabello mushrooms or even a handful of wild mushrooms such as chanterelles.