Coming back home from a heavenly vacation is never easy I suppose, but this time was exceptionally nasty. We boarded our airplane on Madeira at comfy, sunny temperatures around 28°C just to be rudely dumped into the 9°C nighttime ick of Frankfurt Airport. After a week of absence, our appartment was bonechillingly cold as well, of course, so we took the chance – after we had avoided to have both PCs running for a longer period of time during the summer in order to avoid major heatstrokes – for one hell of a content crawl through the new chapters of the GW2 living story.
What a wonderful way to fend off that travel bug and to settle down at home again! What a wonderful way to, yet again, be so drawn into the ever-changing world of Tyria in a way that makes you skip over meals without even noticing… at least until, during a rare moment of downtime, you see the roaring fires of the Chef’s Guild flickering invitingly in your direction. Not being able to resist, I had a quick look-see at the soup section of the Guild’s menu, and immediately decided to end my brief escape into denial and, instead, embrace the fact that autumn had truly arrived while we were gone. I unglued myself from my desk, scattered a few blankets all over the room and got to work, cooking up the perfect autumn’y welcome-home dish, comforting and perfectly capable of lighting a cozy little campfire in our bellies, one of my favorite versions of a mushroom soup… all thanks to this little Tyrian recipe:
And here’s my version of it:
The Creamy Mushroom Soup
These amounts will net you about 4 servings as a starter or 2 main dishes
2 Shallots, finely cubed
2 medium-sized waxy Potatoes, peeled and diced into ½ cm cubes
2 dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 dried Morels – these are ridiculously expensive (at least in our corner of the world) , but if you can get your hands on a small amount of them online or in a speciality store, get them! A very little of these tiny mushrooms goes a very long way when it comes to flavor.
100ml Low Fat Cooking Cream
500-600ml Vegetable or Mushroom Stock – start with 500ml and keep 100ml at the ready in case the soup ends up too thick for your liking. Potatoes are unpredictable sometimes...
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
300g Mixed Wild Mushrooms – I usually go with 100g each of Chanterelles and Porcinis as well as 100g of King Oyster Mushrooms or whatever else my trusted farmer’s market stall has on display that particular day.
75ml White Port
1 Tbsp Walnut Oil
8 Strips of Bacon – Wonderful, non-porky alternative: Thinly sliced cured Venison or Duck
1 Pinch of Nutmeg
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Parsley, very finely chopped
or: 1 Tbsp Parsley and 1 Tbsp Chives – for a few zingy dots in the soup. I always go with my mood on this one.
3-4 Tbsp Crème Légère
Opt: ½ Lemon, juice only
Opt: A few bundles of Lamb’s Lettuce tp doll up the plates
1) First off, prep work! Soak the dried mushrooms in 4-5 tbsp of the vegetable stock for about 60 mins.
2) Place the potato cubes in a sieve and thoroughly rinse them to get rid of some of their starch to keep the soup from taking on a gluey quality. Sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and let them drip-drip away for 45 min – this way, since the potatoes are destined to hit the pan around 15 mins before the dried mushrooms will be joining them, you’re keeping your timeline ordered without much of a fuss.
3) Set a large, heavy-based pan onto medium-high heat and add the grapeseed oil.
4) Give the oil around 3-4 mins to warm up, then add the onions and cook them, gently stirring from time to time, for 6-8 mins until they turn translucent and soft.
5) Dab the the potato cubes with a paper towel and add them to the pan along with the butter. Give the pan a hearty flip to distribute the butter and give the cubes about 10 mins to take on a light, golden brown touch. Flip them from time to time to get some color on all sides.
6) Set around 4 heaped Tbsp of your mushroom mix aside to serve as topping for your bowls later and pop the remaining mushrooms into the pan and, after another flip of the pan, let them get close and personal with the potatoes and onions for 5 mins.
7) Deglaze the pan with the port and make sure to loosen every bit of yum sticking to the bottom of the pan with a spatula before tuning the heat down to medium.
8) Fish the dried shrooms out of the small bowl of stock, give them a light squeeze and finely chop them. Add them, their soaking liquid and the rest of the stock to the pan.
9) Give the lot a good stir and leave it to simmer for 20 mins.
10) Meanwhile, if you’re going with the bacon rather than cured meats, place the strips in a large pan and set it onto high heat for the bacon to crisp up. If you’d like your bacon slices to stay flat rather than crinkle up, cover them with a fitted sheet of baking parchment and weigh it down with a pot or pan with a big enough DIA to evenly cover the slices under their papery blanket.
11) This takes around 6-8 mins, depending on the thickness of the slices – remove them from the pan once you’re satisfied with them and place them on a paper towel to remove excess fat.
12) Pop the mushrooms you’ve set aside earlier into the pan and sautée them in the remains of your bacon-crisping efforts for around 5 mins until they’re golden brown and soft.
13) Season them with a scrape of nutmeg and a crack of pepper before setting them aside until you’re ready to plate up.
14) Back to the soup… take the pan off the heat, stir in the cooking cream and walnut oil and use a blender or stick blender to blitz it until it’s smooth and silky. Check for it’s consistency at this point and, if needed, tweak it with the remaining stock in case it’s too thick for your taste.
15) Strain the soup through a fine sieve, back into the pan or pot you’ve used to get to this point.
16) Season it with nutmeg, salt and pepper, have a taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. To lighten up the deal you could add a few drops of lemon juice, but keep the crème fraîche and the fresh parsley you’ve got waiting in mind before going to town with a lemon. Have some of both with your taste sip to make sure.
17) Once you’re happy with the seasoning, set the pot back onto low heat and let the soup warm through for one last time. Make sure it doesn’t get up to a boil after adding the cream, it could curdle if it’s exposed to high temperatures. At this point you could have at it with a stick blender and froth up the soup for a ponzy touch before pouring it into your dishes. In this particular case I don’t think it’s all that important, though.
18) Carefully place the sautéed topping-shrooms in 4 bowls. Move the soup into a jug and slowly pour it into the bowls, around the mushroom-islands.
19) Garnish the bowls with dots of crème légère, 2 slices of crispy bacon or cured venison each and the lettuce, if you’re using it, that is. Sprinkle the portions with the fresh parsley and/or chives just before serving.
Welcome, autumn! I had almost forgotten the fact that I actually like you from a culinary point of view~!