Well, there should be a word. So I am coining it, as of now. Umaminess. The n'th degree of umami. In my favorite little market the other day I was astounded by a new batch of shitake mushrooms that had just arrived. Specimens so robust, so plump, so big and fresh looking, it was impossible to resist them; practically jumping out of the bin and into my cart. Well, I had been wanting mushrooms for soup; and, in my humble opinion shitakes are the kings of mushroom flavor. They are admittedly pricey, but when vegetables look really really good, it is totally worth it. Besides which, I am a mushroom admirer, see my various posts on the subject. The fungal fascination.
In her blog, Ruth Reichl had mentioned Elizabeth David's book, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, which I then got from the library and have been reading. A collection of various articles she had written over the years. In that interesting book David very briefly discusses soups thickened with bread; particularly a mushroom soup recipe of hers which appears in French Provincial Cooking. Now I was not willing to wait for another book, and could find no such recipe online. (note below)* So, it was time to improvise darlings.
Always on the lookout for ways to utilize the remains of my loaves of bread, this was a match made in heaven for the soup of shitakes. The method is not too difficult. Briefly, just saute some onion in a bit of butter, add your mushrooms, saute some more, then add stock and the bread cubes, some fresh thyme or marjoram, simmer, blend.
Cream of Mushroom Soup TDF*Loosely adapted from a recipe by Elizabeth David
4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lb. mushrooms and stems, sliced
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or marjoram
1 cup bread, crusts removed and cubed
1/2 cup cream
truffle oil (optional, but nice to drizzle on top)
clipped fresh chives to garnish
*to die for
Reduce stock and wine by about 1/4 and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pan and saute the onions until translucent. Add in the remaining butter, melt and add in the mushrooms, salt and herbs, then saute a few minutes. Now stir in the bread cubes, and enough stock to just come over it all, and cover. Simmer until the bread is dissolving into the broth.
Let it all cool a bit and then blend with remaining stock until smooth. Return to the stove and heat, adding in the cream, stirring until well combined and hot. Serve up with a drizzle of truffle oil if you wish and some clipped chives. You can trust me when I say this was the best EVER mushroom soup. We both licked our bowls clean. Seriously.
Linking this up with Beth Fish Reads, for her Weekend Cooking.
* Note: The original recipe appears also in At Elizabeth David's Table.