Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Soup Project: Winter Mushroom Soup with Hazelnut-Lemon Gremolata

I love mushrooms, but I didn't grow up eating them, not even common button mushrooms from the grocery store. Campbell's mushroom soup was about as close as I got to mushrooms as a child because Mom never bought mushrooms, not even the canned variety. "Too risky," she'd once told me.

So I became a mushroom fan after I moved out and started cooking. In college I took a foraging class, and I'd never consider adding Campbell's mushroom soup to my pantry today. And with Found and Foraged at Seattle farmers' markets, I'm lazy and don't forage for my own mushrooms.

I keep at least one package of their dried mushrooms in my pantry all the time. Dried porcini is my favorite, but I'm fond of their wild mix as well. These dry mushrooms are the secret to great tasting meat-free gravy and their texture is chewy and can easily replace a meat in shepherd's pie or stews.

I was dreaming about mushroom soup and I looked for recipes that incorporate both fresh and dry mushrooms. I wanted strong earthy tones. My usual cookbooks wern't much help, but when I checked Barbara Kafka's Soup: A Way of Life, I found a mushroom broth recipe that seemed the perfect base for this soup. Then I looked online and found this mushroom soup by Paul Grimes which looked good, but half a stick of butter? Who needs that?

Right below Grime's recipe, I found another intriguing mushroom soup with dried porcini mushrooms and a gremolata. A what? A garnish made of minced parsley, lemon peel and garlic. I thought about replacing the parsley with mustard greens, and since the recipe had added hazelnuts, I kept that and changed the orange to lemon.

I imagined all the flavors flowing together, hazelnuts and that earthy mushrooms with the tang of lemon zest.

I combined the two recipes and adapted Kafka's soup broth for my recipe.

At the market I found chanterelles and hedgehogs. I chose the hedgehogs because chanterelles might get water logged too easily. I bought about a pound, but ended up only using half of that because I figured they'd also be good in a stir fry.

I had a package of dried shiitake mushrooms for the broth, but if you want local, Cascadia Mushrooms is often at winter markets. You can get mushroom logs to grow your own shiitake mushrooms. We did that one year. I'd ordered a shiitake log from a catalog. We kept it in the living room and it was damp all the time since we had to spray it, and it was ugly and it took forever before we got one huge mushroom. Finally a couple smaller ones appeared; we ended up with about five all together. Big woopie. I talked to mushroom expert Paul Stamets who said this was unusual. If you're interested in growing your own, check out Cascadia Mushrooms because they guarantee the mushroom kits they sell.

My Cooking Assistant likes the sweet carrots in this mix. With the chilly cold weater we've had, the carrots are very sweet.

I added a garnet yam to the line up because it also adds sweetness and can add more texture if you cook it long enough so it falls apart.

Winter Mushroom Soup with Hazelnut-Lemon Gremolata
(Makes 6 servings)

1 pound cremini mushrooms, rinsed and sliced

1 pound wild mushrooms like hedgehogs, sliced

1 cup diced shallots

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped hot peppers (Mama Lil’s)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup coconut milk

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 small garnet yam or sweet potato, diced

5-6 cups mushroom broth (see below)

1. Dry-fry mushrooms in a heavy soup pot over medium heat until mushrooms lose their juices. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add shallots and oil to pan. Stir and cook until shallots soften, add garlic and hot peppers. After a few minutes, stir in tomato paste and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

3. Blend in coconut milk, celery, carrot, sweet potato and 5 cups mushroom broth. Simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Remove 1 cup of the soup and puree.

4. Return to pot. Stir in mushrooms Season with salt.

5. Garnish with gremolata (see below).

Hazelnut and Mustard Greens Gremolata

2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup minced mustard greens or kale

1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 teaspoons finely chopped organic lemon zest

Mix olive oil, kale, hazelnuts, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Top each serving of soup with it.

Mushroom Broth (adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Soup A Way of Life)

3/4 pound cremini mushrooms

1/2 ounce shiitake mushrooms

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

6 cups water

Chop fresh mushrooms to a smooth paste in a blender or food process. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Bring the mushrooms and water to a boil in a stock pot. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, then through a damp cloth lined sieve. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Joan said...

I love this post because I too love mushrooms and you've inspired me to delve into the world of dried mushrooms! This soup is mouthwatering! I usually have a paper sack of fresh shrooms in the fridge but when I'm out it would be wonderful if I could reach into the pantry to find a bag of dried. I especially love that you found a source at the farmers markets...I wonder if they sell anywhere else than Pike Place? I shall look for them.

Sorry I've been absent...not intentional but just life right now. I love your blog and follow when I can. Do you celebrate Christmas? Merry Christmas to you if you do or perhaps Happy Hanukah?

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks so much Joan--a mushroom lover like me. I have seen dried mushrooms at PCC and Whole Foods. Maybe Trader Joes has them as well, though these places may not have Porcini, a wild mix works too. We celebrate Christmas at our house. Merry Christmas to you too!

Debbie @ Easy Natural Food said...

I love mushrooms too, although I don't tend to get beyond the common varieties. I love the sound of that mushroom broth - I bet that would give the soup an amazing flavor. Thanks for sharing this with Sunday Night Soup Night!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Debbie, I nearly missed posting due to holiday travel! The broth is pretty amazing; I might liken it to a beef stock since it's so hearty. It would work well with a noodle soup, too. I'm thinkin' a "No Turkey" Noodle Soup right after Christmas. Thanks for stopping by.

Debbie @ Easy Natural Food said...

"No Turkey" noodle soup sounds good to me, I'll be looking out for it! I just tweeted your mushroom soup as one of my favorites from Sunday Night Soup Night! Thanks for linking up and hope to see you again soon :)

LunaCafe said...

Wonderful post Debra! I have a pound of shiitake mushrooms starring at me from adventure at the Portland Farmers Market yesterday and am thus looking for inspiration. I'm intrigued by the color of your mushroom soup. Very pretty! ...Susan

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks so much for visiting Susan. I can't get enough mushrooms this tme of year.