Off the Wall
There is something about mushrooms that I find alluring. As a child, I imagined them growing in mystical forests, under a cloak of fog, amid quilts of moss and the dense canopy above. I found them romantic and mysterious, and wished I could go foraging for mushrooms. Instead, I resigned myself to imagining this as I played in my yard, where there were always mushrooms to be found, though sadly none of the edible variety. We did have several tall trees that provided enough shade for moss and mushrooms to grow, and I would pretend that I was in a secret world; my play wavered between imagining I was cooking up a mushroom stew and pretending I was visiting the Smurfs. If you were a child of the 80′s you wouldn’t laugh, I know you must have loved the Smurfs and their mushroom homes, too.
I still am so fascinated by mushrooms, and as an adult, I dream of taking trips to Europe or China and shadowing mycophagists as they hunt for mushrooms. But I must settle for mushroom hunting at my local markets, and once in a while, I will encounter fabulous specimens. And when I see them, I just have to have them.
Like these King Trumpet Mushrooms.
And these Beech Mushrooms.
With the weather still so dismal and grey, I took comfort in transforming these mushrooms, along with the more easily found Shiitake mushrooms, into a Trio of Mushroom Soup. Would you believe that a small portion of it ended up on my kitchen walls? Since my immersion blender broke a while back, I never replaced it, and in my eagerness, I overfilled my blender. When I turned it on, despite my best efforts to hold down the lid, precious mushroom puree flew out, resulting in a soupy crime scene. As my husband and I cleaned mushroom bits off the wall, I muttered to myself that it better be worth the effort.
It was. I loved the soup. My husband even said it was the best soup I had ever made (!). So, the mess was worth it. Only next time, I’ll take my time with the blender.
Trio of Mushroom Soup
Use your favorite mushrooms if you can not find these varieties. Whatever you find will surely taste just as wonderful. And do be careful when blending. If you opt to use a standard blender, fill to about half capacity and blend in batches if necessary. Always cover the lid with a dish cloth and hold tight.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3.5 oz Bunashimeji (Beech Mushrooms), roughly chopped
- 10.5 oz King Trumpet Mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 6 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 7 cups low sodium chicken broth
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- chives for garnish
In a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add shallots and garlic. When the shallots are transparent (be careful not to allow them to brown), add mushrooms. Season very lightly with a pinch of salt, and stir occasionally until the mushrooms have softened completely. Add Sherry vinegar and deglaze the pot. Add the celery. After about two minutes, add the chicken broth, season to taste with kosher salt, about 1-2 teaspoons to start, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Blend the soup and return to a simmer. Stir in milk and the final tablespoon of butter, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat until ready to serve. Garnish with chives and enjoy!