Hearty mushroom soup – The perfect light dinner

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The best mushroom soup one can ever have would be found in Poland. In fact, the best of any mushroom dishes would have to be had in Poland. That’s because the assortment of forest mushrooms is tremendous. If you are a mushroom freak, you should plan a summer trip to Poland. During summer, mushroom picking is a favourite family outing. The collected mushrooms are either promptly used to cook a cauldron of soup or preserved in jars to be served later as appetisers.

Unfortunately, back home, the supermarket choices are limited to white or brown button mushrooms, and if I’m very lucky, oyster mushrooms. I’m always hesitant to make mushroom soup, fully aware of the high standards of mushroom dishes the Mister has grown up with. Anyhow,  I chanced upon a Jamie Oliver recipe that persuaded me to throw caution into the wind and be convinced that this mushroom soup would semi-satisfy a mushroom soup craving.

The secret to transforming an ordinary mushroom soup into a smacking good one seems to lie in the use of dried porcini. Porcini is a type of mushroom with a pronounced flavour. When dried, the piquancy is further increased. Even though the main ingredients used in the recipe below are button and oyster mushrooms, I find the taste of the soup edging somewhat towards that of the ones tasted in Poland. Not bad at all.

I always wonder how restaurants make thick mushroom soup with floating pieces of mushroom. After reading Jamie’s recipe, I know. Puree only half of the soup mixture and then remix them. Ensure that the mushrooms are very soft before you puree them. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be very smooth. The result is a thick soup and with bite too.

As mushrooms are filling, this soup is perfect as a main course for dinner on days where you had too much for lunch. In line with my HPLC diet, I had it with some vegetables, simply boiled and lightly buttered.

Recipe simplified from a Jamie Oliver original.

Ingredients

  • 600g mushrooms, preferably a mix
  • 5 pieces dried porcini
  • 30g butter
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 600-750 ml vegetable stock
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp of cream (if one can afford the fats)

Method

  • Soak dried porcini in hot water till they are softened. Chop them up.
  • Chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Mince garlic and onion
  • Melt butter in a big pot
  • Add mushrooms and stir fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add garlic and onion
  • Allow mixture to cook for about half hour, until the juices released by the mushrooms are almost gone
  • Add porcini, the soaking liquid, stock, parsley and bay leaves and salt to taste
  • Simmer for another half hour or so.
  • Remove half of the soup to a separate big bowl and puree
  • Add pureed soup back into pot. Stir to combine.
  • Add cream, if using
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