Sense of Home
Friday had been a very busy, very long day at work and I looked forward to nothing more than coming home, turning on some music and cooking this wild mushroom and leek soup. I set my iPod to play Wilco, Good Old War (which reminds me a little of Deaf Cab), and Broken Bells through the stereo, poured myself a glass of Chardonnay and starting cleaning mushrooms. I photographed the mushrooms before I cleaned them so you can see bits of dirt, to clean them use a damp towel, never rinse them in water.
Now when it comes to leeks, you want to give them a good rinse in water, separating them as you go, they have a lot of sand between their layers. This soup was so good, like the perfect comfort food, just what I needed after a long day. Now I know there are people who do not like mushrooms, but they have never tried this soup, this soup will change their minds. Some say mushrooms are flavorless, maybe those white mushrooms, but not the wild ones. Some say they don't like the texture of mushrooms, well, the majority of the mushrooms in this soup are blended into broth before the soup is done, so they add to the rich flavor of the broth. In fact the original recipe said to put the entire soup through the blender, I wanted some chunks, so I took about 2 cups worth of broth, mushrooms and leeks out before I blended the rest, then I put it back before adding the cream. The diced potato I left in to be blended, it is there to thicken the broth and the flavor it adds is unbelievable. You must try this soup.
Wild Mushroom and Leek Soup
~adapted from Bon Appetit, September 1985~
Makes about 8 cups
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups finely diced leeks, about 3 small, white part only
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 small baking potato, peeled and finely diced
2 pounds fresh wild mushrooms (such as cepes, chanterelles, shiitake),* sliced
4 cups (or more) chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
4 wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Minced fresh parsley
Melt 6 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, celery and potato. Cover and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
Add 2 pounds mushrooms to skillet and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of stock and mushroom mixture and transfer the rest to a blender (in batches if necessary) or use a hand blender and puree. Return reserved stock to the pot as well as puree. Add remaining butter and cream and heat gently until butter melts. (If thinner consistency is desired, add more stock.) Season generously with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with mushrooms, cheese and parsley.
*If the wild are unavailable, regular white mushrooms can be substituted.