There really isn’t any way to make this soup prettier looking but for mushroom lovers, its pure magic. The aroma alone will more than make up for its rather gloomy appearance and the combination of fresh mushrooms and dried porcini with sherry, creates a soup that tastes so wonderful, it would grace the menu at any dinner party.
The addition of a few crispy croutons wills certainly help or perhaps a blob of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of parsley.
Unless you have some Duxelles in the freezer or are willing to make it, leave it out. The recipe for Duxelles is here – I make and freeze batches of it two or 3 times a year as its indispensable for pizza-topping, sauces, pasta, soup – and toppings for burgers, salmon, steak, chicken, baked or mashed potatoes, etc.
With or without duxelles, the soup will be excellent but adding duxelles will definitely take it to another level.
WILD MUSHROOM SOUP
¾ oz (20g) of dried porcini mushrooms – available from good supermarkets, Italian delis or Wholefoods
12 oz (350g) of dark mushrooms such as large portabellas, open cap field mushrooms or chestnut mushrooms
1 pint (570ml) of hot chicken broth (vegetarians use vegetable stock)
1 cup (240g) of Duxelles (optional but recommended)
1.5 oz (40g) of butter
1 large shallot, minced
5 fl oz (150ml) of sherry
1 tablespoon of crème fraiche
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
Cover the dried porcini with 1 pint (570 ml) of hot organic chicken broth (or vegetable stock) and leave to soak for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the 12 oz (350 g) of cleaned fresh mushrooms into small pieces in a food processor or by hand.
Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium sized, heavy-based pan then cook the shallot gently for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add the fresh chopped mushrooms, stirring everything well. Keep the heat turned as low as possible and let the mushrooms and shallot sweat uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Strain the porcini mushrooms through a sieve lined with a sheet of kitchen paper, and reserve the liquid. Finely chop the soaked porcini and add them to the rest of the mushrooms along with the strained soaking water and the Duxelles if using.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and give a good stir. Add the sherry or Madeira then bring everything up to a gentle simmer and leave to simmer uncovered, for 40 minutes.
The soup can be made up to 2 days ahead to this point (or frozen) – if it looks too chunky, put it in a blender.
Reheat gently and stir in the cream just before serving.
If you’re using croutons, they can also be made in advance and kept in an airtight container. It’s important to note that adding croutons to the soup before serving will make them soggy so pass them around the table for people to serve themselves.
To make croutons: use 1-2 oz (30-60g) of good quality crusty bread, cut it into small pieces and toss them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then spread them out on a baking sheet. Bake at 400F (200C) for about 8 minutes – stir them around and give them another 4-5 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy. Unless you’re using them immediately, cool them completely before storing or freezing.