Monday, 5 March 2012

Recipe: Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms are funny things. They are unappetising in colour, smell and texture, but big and tasty on flavour. I feel a bit sorry for them in a way. Like many people - I can't stand a slimy mushroom. I've never understood the 'stuffed mushroom' fad that refuses to go away. Although on reflection, this may be because I hate it when people give them to vegetarians and expect them to be excited.
I am still ploughing on with my eternal battle to Empty The Pantry. It's going well - the looming threat of having to move house is spurring me to eat some interesting combinations, try new things and revisit ingredients that I wasn't convinced about first time round.

When I was a student, I went through a phase of eating huge amounts of mushroom risotto. I'm not entirely sure where this fad came from, although I think it may have had something to do with the oil store on Borough Market, and the truffle infusion that I was persuaded to buy, and then didn't know what to do with.

I always have a packet of dried mushrooms in my cupboard. Their texture and colour is so much more appealing than fresh. The smell makes me think of camping - wet, damp, woody and earthy. But now that the risotto fad has disappeared for the moment, they have been neglected. Until now. This soup takes ages, but tastes wonderful.

Mushroom Soup
Serves 4 as a main

300g mixed dried mushrooms
600g fresh mushrooms
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
50g butter
250ml hot water
500ml chicken or vegetable stock

Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for about half an hour. Stir them occasionally.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the fresh mushrooms and finely slice the onion and garlic.
After the dried mushrooms have been soaking for half an hour, start cooking. Don't drain the dried mushrooms!
Sautee the onions and garlic in butter until they start to turn transluscent. Add the fresh mushrooms and stir in with the onion, garlic and butter to sautee a little. If they stick to the pan, add a tablespoon of hot stock. They should start to brown, and the liquor from the mushrooms should start to come out.
Stir in the dried mushrooms, and their juice, and cover the mixture with the stock.
Simmer for an hour - half an hour with the lid on, half an hour with the lid off.
Blend the soup. This will be time consuming, mushrooms have a slightly wierd texture when blended. The aim is to break up all of the fibres, to get a creamy but thick texture. If you think you need more liquid - add a tiny, tiny amount at a time.
Serve with buttery crusty bread, a generous swirl of cream, and a sprinking of fresh thyme or rosemary.

You could make this recipe dairy free by using olive oil instead of butter.
To make it more suitable for small children, use water instead of stock. Add a dollop of mushroom ketchup if it needs an extra kick.
Sauteed fresh wild mushrooms sprinkled on top would be stunning.
Blend in blue Stilton cheese, or crumble on top to serve.

I'm blogging this recipe for Save The Children's Recipe Challenge. Their aim is for thousands of recipes to be collated into an e-book, to be sold as a fundraiser. It's not about increasing aid, or bullying developing countries - it's about encouraging our politicians to get together to actually *do* something about a problem, rather than throwing money at it in the hope that it will go away. You can read more about it at The Pink Whisk.

1 comment:

  1. Looks delicious! Thanks for posting it in aid of the Save the Children recipe challenge - your help is very much appreciated.

    Rosie Childs, Save the Children.