Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mushroom Veloute Soup 

This is taken directly from James Peterson's Splendid Soups for the basic recipe, and then I'll tell you my own modifications to it.

Makes 8 Servings
(Not really, makes about 4 dinner-sized servings)

1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 C. Maderia or dry sherry.
1 quart chicken, vegetable or dried porcini broth
14 ounces fresh cultivated white or cremini mushrooms, rinsed and dried
1 Cup heavy cream
salt & pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped (for topping)

My modified recipe:

1 medium white onion, fine chopped
6 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup dry sherry (+ extra if needed later)
1 quart box of Pacific Organic brand mushroom broth or Free Range chicken broth. DO NOT USE CANNED BROTH. It is nothing but colored salt water. Pbbbbblt!
1 pound white mushrooms, or do half & half of white and wild mushrooms
1 pint heavy cream
kosher salt and black pepper

1 cup heavy cream
half bunch of fresh tarragon, plucked and woody stems discarded
pinch kosher salt

1 French baguette, biased sliced into 1/2 inch pieces, allowed to "stale" in the air for a day, or quick stale on a cookie sheet in a warm oven. Do not toast.
1/2 lb butter
1/2 bulb garlic

Tarragon Cream:
hip the heavy cream, tarragon, and salt in a blender until it is thickened. I like it a little looser than cool whip. Do not overwhip.

Transfer the tarragon cream to another container and store refrigerated. Do not clean out blender pitcher - the added flavor is good for the soup.

Garlic Croutons:
Prepare the Garlic croutons by first rubbing each piece of stale bread with fresh garlic, on both sides. For one loaf, you will probably use up 2 of the larger garlic cloves of the head. Peel and finely mince the rest of the garlic, place it in a small sauce pan with the half-pound of butter over medium heat. Melt and allow to boil only slightly, do not allow to burn. Stir to help the garlic infuse flavor into the butter. Remove from heat.

In a large skillet, place a few tablespoons of the garlic butter to coat the bottom, heat until sizzling, then place a layer of the French bread slices in and saute them on both sides until they are nicely browned, but not burned. Do not allow the garlic to blacken. The bread should be quite crisp and oily, the flavor pleasantly strong. Remove bread from pan, set aside in a bowl or basket, and repeat with the remaining bread and garlic butter, in batches, adding more fat to the pan as needed as the bread soaks it up.

Mushroom Veloute:

Cook the onion in butter in a medium (4 quart or larger) stock pot over medium heat, stirring almost constantly to prevent browning.

When the onion turns translucent, (about 10 minutes), add the flour and stir over medium heat 5-10 minutes more to cook out the starchy taste of the raw flour.

Add the sherry to the hot onion mixture, let some of the alcohol evaporate to concentrate the flavor, then add the broth. Whisk the soup to get rid of any lumps and bring it to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes.

Have a large bowl with a mesh strainer positioned over top ready for the next step.

Place mushrooms into the blender pitcher, filling about half way. Add 1 cup of the hot soup base. Do not overfill, because when hot soup is blended, it expands and can seriously burn you when you turn it on. Hold the lid on tightly. Blend the mushrooms on high speed (liquefy) for about 2 minutes, adding a little more soup base if needed to get them moving. Empty the blended soup through the mesh strainer, into the large bowl. You may want to push it through a bit with a rubber spatula, as the onions may be fibrous. Discard any pulp buildup that remains. Repeat with another batch of mushrooms and more soup base, until it has all been blended and strained.

Pour the mushroom soup from the large bowl back into the original stock pot. Add the c ream. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle it into warmed bowls, and top each serving with a dollop of the tarragon cream. Pass around the croutons and any extra cream for dipping and soaking.