Every winter solstice, I am drawn to dark looking foods. One year it was squid ink pasta, followed by an eggplant dish. Sometimes, we have a pint of Guinness. On one particular occasion, an old friend, Brian, arrived dressed for the occasion, his cheeks smeared with charcoal, a crooked stick in hand, and wandered around my kitchen muttering Celtic chants. He then placed a wooden box of dried oak leaves on the table, a box of spells perhaps.
This year’s Solstice offering is a traditional mushroom soup. I only make this soup when my favourite green grocery sells discounted bags of mushrooms that have dark gills. White coloured mushrooms are rather insipid in flavour. I have add a handful of dried porcini to boost the taste of the dark woods.
First make a good rich vegetable stock. The smaller you cut the vegetables in a veggie stock, the more they will sweat off flavour. Also use the mushroom stems in your stock.
Crema di funghi e porcini, Cream of mushroom and porcini soup
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 50g of butter
- 1 potato, diced
- 500g sliced mushrooms, preferably with darker gills.
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 15 g dried porcini mushrooms
- a handful of fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup of cream, or more
- 1 tablespoon or more, dry sherry
- some sour cream or crème fraîche to serve
- black pepper and salt
- finely chopped parsley to serve
- Soak the porcini mushrooms in some of the hot stock. Leave for 20 minutes, then remove porcini and strain the liquid through a muslin cloth. Save the soaking liquid.
- Add butter to a heavy based saucepan or soup pot, add the onions and cook gently until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and toss through briefly, then add the sliced mushrooms and chopped porcini. Toss around for a few minutes until the mushrooms wilt and reduce, then add the diced potato, thyme, stock and reserved porcini liquid.
- Simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, then blend with a stick blender until very smooth. Add the cream, warm through, then add freshly ground pepper, a little salt, and the sherry. Taste and check for seasoning and sherry.
Serve with a little crème fraîche or sour cream and parsley and some good bread.