Monday, February 14, 2011

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup with Madeira

The intoxicating combination of Madeira, cream and mixed mushrooms is one of the truly tantalizing aromas. A small portion of this wonderfully rich and satisfying potion will be a welcome treat, especially in the depth of these cold winter months. The soft earthiness of the mushrooms and pungent porcini, enhanced with the toasty nuttiness of the Madeira, makes this Wild Mushroom Soup one of my absolute favourite starters. I also find that keeping a bottle of Madeira wine on hand is always a good idea — a small slug or two will transform any soup or sauce in moments.

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup with Madeira
Serves 6-8

3 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, chanterelles or shitake
3/4 cup Madeira wine
8 tbsp butter
2 cups yellow onions, finely chopped
2 lb fresh crimini mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper 
chives for garnish

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in Madeira wine for an hour. Melt the butter in a large soup pot, then add the onions and cook over a low heat until they are tender and begin to brown, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Trim the stems from the fresh mushrooms and discard. Wipe the caps with a mushroom brush or paper towel, then slice thinly. Add the caps to the soup pot, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook over low heat uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside some of the mushrooms for garnish.

With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the porcini from the Madeira, letting any sediment settle before pouring the liquid in to the pot. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and tender.

Strain the soup, transferring the solids to a food processor with 1 cup of liquid, and purée until smooth. Return the purée to the soup pot along with the remaining liquid and set over medium heat. Taste and correct seasoning, thinning the soup with cream as desired, then heat until warmed through.

Serve in warmed serving bowls and garnish with the leftover mushrooms, a swirl of cream and some chives.