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Friday, 24 February 2012

Creamy Mushroom Soup in Bread Bowls

For most of my life, my relationship with mushrooms has fluctuated between blind hatred and cool indifference. As a child, I would pick them out of stirfry, eat around them in salads, and recoil in horror if a rebellious mushroom somehow made it on to my pizza. In high school, I was voted "least likely to ever post a mushroom recipe on a food blog". Yet, here I am, defying expectations and embracing my former enemy with open arms. How did this happen? Clearly I have a great capacity for personal growth. My mushroom-loving boyfriend may have also had something to do with it. However, the tipping point came about a year ago when we were on vacation in Lake Placid. Adam ordered a mushroom soup that came served in a bread bowl. Initially I was indifferent, perhaps even slightly disappointed that he didn't order something delicious that I could sample. Then...the aroma wafted across the table and I became curious. How could something so vile, so greige, smell so appetizing? One spoonful turned to several spoonfuls (to Adam's dismay) and before I knew it, I was a mushroom fan. A mushroom soup fan, at least. This recipe is my attempt to recreate that game-changing meal.

My biggest beef with mushrooms ("mmm, beef with mushrooms" - Adam) has always been their texture. Unfortunately this precluded me from every appreciating their delicious woodsy flavour. This soup is blended until it's smooth and creamy, which means I can enjoy the Umami experience without issue.

Serves 4

drizzle of grapeseed oil
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
3 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
5-6 cups chopped mushrooms (I use oyster, shitake, and cremini)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
dash of Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper
truffle salt to garnish (optional)
4 crusty buns

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery and shallots and stir. Let cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and thyme. Saute for 2-3 minutes longer until softened. Add the chopped mushrooms and stir to combine. Saute for 5 minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have softened (you'll know you're getting close when the mushrooms stop squeaking). Add the stock and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and let cook for 10 minutes.

While the soup cooks, you can prepare the bread bowls. Cut around the edge of the bun and remove the top portion. Scoop out some of the bread inside to make a bowl (this is my cook's treat but you can also save it for bread crumbs).

Remove the soup from the heat. Using a stick blender (or in bathes in a regular blender), blend the soup until smooth. Add the cream and stir until incorporated. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed, it almost always needs a generous pinch of salt at this point. Give it one final stir to incorporate everything. Scoop into bread bowls, garnish with a sprinkle of truffle salt, and serve.  

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