I love the holidays! Starting with Thanksgiving, which is my all-time favorite, right through to New Year’s Eve, I love the rolling feast of it all. With the advent of on-line shopping, I have finally been able to eliminate the one aspect of the holidays that used to make me dread them like the plague, and now that “retail” Christmas shopping is out of my life, the holidays are nothing but cheer for me! They are a time to reconnect with friends and family, and to celebrate our health, peace and good fortune. They provide ample opportunities for opening a few special bottles from the wine cellar, and most happily for me, offer a temporary pass to indulge in all sorts of delicious if not altogether healthy foods.
That’s not to say that I spend every day of December in a race to ingest as many fat and sugar calories as I can, but I certainly don’t watch myself as I do during the balance of the year. I send my internal food police on a brief vacation so that I don’t feel like they are about to haul me away in handcuffs at every turn.
I guess you could say that it was this holiday spirit that prompted my Bouchon’s Quiche post, clearly marking the beginning of my “fat, what fat?” seasonal break with nutritional reality. For those of you who would like to join along in this little vacation from caloric responsibility, and perhaps found the quiche recipe a little daunting, here is another cream laced goody to help you get into the holiday spirit.
While I am generally a broth soup kinda guy, when my fat-craving-holiday-season-doppelganger comes a knocking, it is time to whip up a creamed soup for the little bugger. While there are a few creamy soups that I do love, like a good New England Clam Chowder, or a silky Lobster Bisque, by far my favorite is a deeply flavorful Cream of Mushroom Soup like this one. This is a “from scratch” soup that all but the youngest kids can handle making on their own, and that is so much better than any canned option available, that it will fast become a family favorite.
Peyton worked with me crafting this dish, and began right away chopping the veggies for the stock and the mushrooms for sauteing. I dug out some dried porcini that I had hiding in the pantry, and reduced the cream…..we were on our way.
- 1 oz. Dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated, along with the mushroom stock created
- 7 oz. Fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 10 oz. Fresh baby portobello mushrooms
- 2 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only 1 large carrot, cut to medium dice
- 2 celery stalks, cut to medium dice
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus one teaspoon of freshly minced thyme leaves
- 1 sprig fresh tarragon, plus about a tablespoon finely minced tarragon leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1- 2 tablespoons good quality Madeira wine
- 3 cups heavy cream, reduced by half to 1 1/2 cups
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a heat-proof bowl and cover with 6 cups of boiling water to rehydrate, let sit 1/2 hour.
- For the stock, clean and chop the leeks, peel and dice the carrot, and clean and chop the celery. Reserve.
- Clean the fresh mushrooms by brushing them with a clean cloth, pull off the stems and add them to the chopped vegetables for the stock. Slice the mushroom caps and reserve for sauteing later.
- When the porcini are done soaking, skim them from the bowl with your hands and wring them dry. Give them a rough chop and reserve for sauteing.
- Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Carefully pour the porcini soaking liquid through the strainer, collecting the clean broth in the bowl beneath, you should have a round 4 cups.
- In a medium, heavy duty casserole, over medium heat, place one tablespoon of olive oil, with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the veggies, mushroom stems, 3 sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of tarragon, a few grinds of white pepper, and a large pinch of salt. Saute until the ingredients are nicely caramelized. Deglaze with the white wine and let it fully reduce, add the mushroom stock and 2 cups of chicken stock, bring to a gently boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 1/2 hour.
- While the stock is cooking, saute the sliced mushroom caps in three batches, one for each type of mushroom, in 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 2 tablespoons butter. When nicely browned, combine in a bowl.
- Take 1 cup of the mixed, sauteed mushrooms and set aside, place the rest in the bowl of a blender. When the stock is done, pour through a strainer to remove the solids, you should be left with about 4 cups of finished stock. Take 2 cups of the stock and add it to the blender with the mushrooms. Blend on low speed for about 30 seconds to very finely chop the mushrooms.
- Pour the mixture into a clean sauce pan. To this pan, add an additional 1 1/2 cups of finished stock, and 1 1/2 cups of reduced heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of freshly minced thyme, and heat over low-medium flame to a simmer. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Finish the soup by adding the reserved 1 cup of sauteed mushrooms, and 1-2 tablespoons of Madeira to taste. Recheck the seasoning, ladle into warmed bowls, and top with a liberal sprinkling of freshly chopped tarragon.