This week, I have abandoned poor Walker so that I can go home and see my family. I haven’t been home since last May, and leaver’s remorse has led me to make him a bunch of microwaveable dinners to store in the freezer. One morning I actually ended up making three different dinners for him. This was a big hit with Walker, very inexpensive to prepare, and relatively quick.

It was creamy without being heavy on the cream and muting the flavors of the soup and the mushrooms themselves. It was earthy and tasted dark and complex while being very simple to put together. In all it was the perfect winter meal to eat on a cold and dreary day.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of sage
1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 leek, sliced and dark green discarded
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1  teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 pound shiitake mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup drinking quality red wine
2 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Preparation

1. Heat the olive oil and two tablespoons of the  butter in a large pot over a medium flame. Bundle the rosemary and sage together and tie with kitchen twine. When the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on both sides to infuse the oil with the herbs’ flavor.

2. Add the onion, leek, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened and is slightly translucent but not brown.

5. Increase the flame to high and add the white mushrooms and shiitakes, stirring to coat in the herb infused oil. Continue to cook this way for ten minutes, sweating the mushrooms until they decrease significantly in size.

7. Add the chicken stock, wine, and beef bouillon.

8. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the herbs, then working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot, stir in the cream and the reserved butter, and keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve.

Critic’s Comments

“It was (what was it?) wholesome yet suffisticated. It probably could have used a little more pepper to give it more of a bite. It is definitely the way to end a cold and rainy afternoon.  The croutons were a fabulous addition, especially once they absorbed a little bit of the soup.”

My favorite part about this soup was that it had several layers of flavor. The herbs and wine made the earthy taste of the mushrooms almost sultry. I prefer a more substantial soup, so instead of adding a ton of cream and stock like most of the recipes I’d found I added just enough stock to cover the vegetables and just enough cream to lighten the flavors a little. Of course, play with the amounts of liquid to your liking. My combination left me with a very thick soup which was still very dark in its flavors.

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