Creamy Mushroom Soup

It’s by golly cold in Cincinnati today, and Lolly has decreed that I cook her a warm, comfort-foody soup to make it all better.  Her Eminence let it be known that she would be most amused with a cream of mushroom soup.  So let it be written — so let it be done.

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Tonight’s offering is from an excellent recipe that I learned in culinary school, but rewired just a bit to suit my personal preference.  There are essentially three moving parts.  Here are your ingredients to make you 4 hearty servings:

For the velouté:

  • 2 oz. clarified butter
  • 2 oz. all purpose flour
  • 1 qt. chicken or vegetable stock

For the main soup:

  • 1 oz. clarified butter
  • 12-14 oz. mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 quart velouté
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dry thyme
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, hot
  • 6 oz. heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the garnish

  • 1 oz. whole butter
  • 2 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of kosher salt

The base of this soup is a velouté, which is a classic French mother sauce made of white stock thickened with a roux.  I spent yesterday afternoon making a few quarts of homemade chicken stock, so that is what I used for this soup, but a vegetable stock will transform this into a vegetarian dish.

To make the velouté, heat the one quart of stock in a saucepan to a simmer and hold it there.  We will make the roux in a skillet by melting the 2 oz. portion of clarified butter over medium heat and, when it is hot, whisk in the flour to form a thin paste.  Whisk constantly until the flour is fully blended and continue stirring for a few minutes until the roux begins to turn a light golden color (you may also notice the familiar smell of popcorn — that’s a good thing).  When it gets to that point, add the hot stock, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps from forming.  Bring the mixture to a boil, which should happen quickly, then back it down to a low simmer and let it cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  During that time the sauce will become smooth (velouté is French for velvety, or so I’m told) and it will lose the starchy taste of the flour.

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When the velouté is nearly finished, it’s time to start the main soup.  In a large pot, melt the other 1 oz. of clarified butter over medium heat, and add the chopped mushrooms with a pinch of salt and a couple turns from the pepper grinder.  The first thing you will notice is that they appear to absorb all the butter and the bottom of the pot dries out.  That’s normal.  After a few minutes the mushrooms will begin to release their moisture and start to cook down.  After that happens and the mushrooms are browning a bit, throw in the onion and celery with a bit more salt and pepper, and sweat them for about 5 minutes until tender.

By this point the velouté should be ready.  Strain the sauce into the soup pot to remove any stray lumps of flour and keep everything super-creamy.  Add the bay leaf, thyme and the remaining 2 cups of hot stock, and let the soup simmer on low for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.  While that is happening, make your garnish by pan-frying the remaining mushroom slices in the whole butter and a pinch of salt until well browned and crisp on both sides.  Hold them on a paper towel until you’re ready to serve.

When the soup is done cooking, remove the bay leaf and break out your immersion blender to puree the soup.  How smooth you make it is entirely up to you.  I like this soup to be very smooth, so I’ll give it an initial puree on low speed, then repeat on high to make sure it is uniformly creamy.  Finally, stir in the heavy cream, adjust your seasonings, and you’re ready to serve.

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Her Royal Lollyness was very pleased with the result of my humble efforts, and we munched this down, as is our wont, with a big happy grin on our faces.  I hope you enjoy this warm, tasty offering on a cold winter’s day as much as we did.  Until next time:  Eat well, my friends!

 

 

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