Gabe and I have been coasting along, doing our usual winter thing of working through the rotation of our favorite soups. We recently have made caldo verde, minestrone, creamy tomato soup, and of course, that timeless classic, potato-leek soup. And more.
But when I said this weekend that I planned to make a butternut squash soup this week, there was a revolt. A revolt of the tween variety, with eye rolling, deep sighs, and dramatic pleas."Please, please, PLEASE, not another soup!" Accompanied by head flopping onto the table forehead first.
Apparently they are tired of soup.
In that case, we may as well make something that they won't eat anyway. Mushrooms were the obvious choice.
I came across a recipe for a creamy mushroom soup in the New York Times and it fit the bill for a parents-only soup. I tweaked it a bit, of course, skipping the step of making separate stock and adding a parsley pesto on top. The soup ended up being just what I wanted for the latest wine club recipe card for Black Ankle's just-released 2010 Leaf Stone Syrah, a big bold wine that complemented the meatiness of the mushrooms.
They can have their plain pasta and baby carrots. We're slurping soup and sipping wine.
Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Parsley PestoTo accompany Black Ankle's 2010 Leaf Stone Syrah
This mushroom soup is hearty and richly flavored, although it uses milk rather than cream. The parsley pesto is optional, but it adds a pop of freshness to the earthy mushrooms. For a more elegant soup, you can strain the soup through a sieve or run it through a food mill. You will lose some volume, but served in a dainty tea cup it would make the perfect first course for a dinner party. If you have extra parsley pesto, it would is excellent tossed onto a salad or boiled potatoes, tucked into an omelette, or spread on a sandwich.
Adapted liberally from Jeremy Bearman's recipe in The New York Times
Serves 6 as a first course
20 minutes preparation time
40 minutes cooking time
For the soup:
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds shiitake and crimini mushrooms, brushed and sliced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts, cleaned and chopped
8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper
10 cups vegetable stock
2 cups whole milk
For the parsley pesto:
2 cups fresh parsley leaves and stems, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
To make the soup, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and let them sit for a minute or two before stirring them. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and significantly reduced in size, about 15 minutes. If the pan starts to get too brown as the mushrooms are cooking, add a splash of water and scrape it with a wooden spoon to loosen the caramelized coating.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the celery, onion, leeks, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook until the celery, onion, and leeks have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer until all the vegetables are meltingly soft, 20 to 30 minutes.
While the soup simmers, make the parsley pesto. Add the parsley, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to a blender and blend until the parsley has all been incorporated into the oil.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender until all of the vegetables are uniformly tiny. (If you would like a more refined soup, strain the soup by placing a mesh sieve over a heat-proof bowl. working in batches, ladle the soup into the sieve and use a spoon to stir and mash the mushroom mixture to release the liquid. Remove the solids and save them to make stock if you like. Repeat until all of the soup has been strained).
Add the milk to the soup and stir. Just before serving, heat the soup over low heat. Try not to boil the soup or the milk will scald. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with several small dollops of the parsley pesto.