Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms. Lots and lots of mushrooms in the second installment of Barefoot Bloggers September. I joined this group to stretch my culinary adventures in the kitchen – this recipe, selected by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker, surely did that. I would have NEVER made Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup in a million years. I have to say that this recipe could very well turn a non-mushroom eater into one. It’s decadent, but you definitely have to do the work. I was in the kitchen for at least two hours. Granted, I do like to take pictures of every step and that process can eat up some time. I’m always grateful when I’m trying a new recipe and the blog I’m referring to has lots of pictures so I know if I’m doing it right or not.

I consider myself a beginner cook because I literally just started cooking (for real) a year ago, and only on a regular basis since January 2008 when Jim moved to Austin. There is something about feeding my man that makes me feel more like a woman. That could be a country song you know. Call me old fashioned, I really really really love being in the kitchen and I love watching Jim fall in love with every bite I serve him. It’s better and cheaper than therapy.

So here we go, I’m going to show you how I made the Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup that I really didn’t want to make in the first place…but I’m glad I did.

This is a long list of ingredients:
5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini or porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! I coarsely chopped the stems and placed them into the bowl on the right. The good stuff, the mushroom caps were chopped into bite size pieces and went into the bowl on the left.
Here I have my three mushrooms chopped and then one bowl on the right full of the chopped stems for my stock.

Next I finish prepping all the ingredients before I start my recipe. I have to admit this is hard for me because I want to jump right in and start cooking. But being efficient and prepping all your ingredients first will tip you off if you are missing something. For other great tips for beginner cooks, I really enjoyed this post from Ali on Divine Domesticity.
I chopped one half of an onion for the stock. I have to share a great tip I learned from Alton Brown, chop an onion near an open flame to reduce tears. You can see in this picture I have the burner on beside me. When you cut an onion, cells rupture and release an enzyme that break down into oxides and acids. These oxides reform to make a nasty gas which mixes with the tears in your eyes and forms sulfuric acid. Ouch! We could wear a scuba mask or goggles to protect our eyes, but you would look silly. One solution is to sprits vinegar on your cutting board to interrupt the chemical reaction, but the lingering smell may be worse than the tears. Cutting near an open flame creates convection, pulling in air and most of the fumes which are then destroyed. In the end, a sharp knife is your very best defense because it damages fewer cells. Jim, if you are reading this here is another reason why I need a Wusthof Santoku Knife Set.

Moving on! I used a small snack size package of baby carrots to chop up for the stock.
Fresh thyme. Run your fingers gently down the stem to remove the small leaves. I chopped and prepped a one teaspoon worth and set aside one sprig of thyme for my stock.
I wasn’t sure how to chop a leek so I ended up slicing it lengthwise and then cutting it every half inch crosswise. These were very dirty and gritty so I used a colander to give them a good bath. 2 leeks came out to a little over two cups worth. Now what should I do with the remaining leek in my fridge?
I used Bonterra Chardonnay for my dry white wine. This isn’t dry, because I don’t have any dry white wine in the house. This however is a yummy citrus chardonnay and it will have to do.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot.
Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

This is my new lime green measuring spoon. It's the kind that has one tablespoon on one side and then you push the rubber spoon through to the other side and when flipped it measures half a tablespoon. I love it.
Once veggies are soft add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown.

After 20 minutes the leeks were soft, but not brown. I moved on with the recipe anyway.
Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender.
Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot.

The wine and flour made our veggies thicken up quite a bit.

Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add one cup half-and-half, and one cup of cream. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil.
Serve hot.
This is Jim’s sample of the soup.
He didn’t like it. I thought it might be the textures so using a ladle I added a couple scoops to my blender to puree smooth.

Unfortunately he didn’t like this either. But I however loved the smooth soup. Wow, this stuff is GREAT!

I went ahead and pureed about one cup of the soup and refrigerated for myself. I packaged the remaining soup into a plastic container and intend to give to my friend Leslie since she and her husband Chris love mushrooms.


  1. So sorry your man didn't like it, but am glad that you did. Your pics are great.

  2. This looks terrific. I'm going to try it next week!

  3. Your step-by-step photos are great! I'm making this tonight . . . I think I will puree some to try it that way as well - good idea!

  4. I don't know about turning non-mushroom eaters into mushroom eaters, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    You know, I didn't cook a THING until I got married almost six years ago. My grandmother and mother were excellent cooks, but I just never had the urge. I had the same reaction you had... more of a woman when you cook. I LOVE to cook now, and it's amazing how quickly we learn, isn't it?

    Once my husband and I got cable, I found this great channel, The Food Network (I know, I was about 5 years behind the rest of America...) but it was like a whole new world opened up to me. I started using ingredients I'd never heard of.

    Oops. Didn't mean to write you a novel. Glad you liked the soup.


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  7. I love all your pictures--you soup turned out well. I saw that tip from Alton but have not tried it yet!

  8. Oh, your photos are just gorgeous!

  9. Such details. I loved it. You and your husband are so cute.


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