Nov 15, 2013

Mushroom Soup, Pate, Porcini Sandwich

As Fall settles in and I reluctantly admit that the cold weather is here to stay, I crave soups. And no thin vegetable broths for me; I want thick, dense and warming umami-laden stews. But how to make one that's vegetarian (with the possible exception of chicken broth), gluten-free and sugar-free, thereby satisfying all our collective dietary restrictions?

Enter mushrooms; lots and lots of mushrooms. They're chewy, hearty, tasty and the epitome of vegetarian umami. Often sharing the spotlight with barley, I instead made them the star. I strengthened the flavor with homemade chicken broth (although vegetable would do just as well) and Shaoxing wine (you could also use grape juice). The vegetarian partially pureed it with an immersion blender so it was chunky enough that you had to chew, not merely slurp, it.

The soup was rich and filling. One of our guests declared it the best thing I'd ever made and the vegetarian, who normally avoids leftovers like the plague, heated it up for lunch the next day!

In order to make it into a full meal, we also served sandwiches with mushroom jam (made from dried porcini I brought back from Paris last year) and pate (duck liver for the omnivores and faux gras for the vegetarian). It was a delightful introduction to Fall. Bon appetit!

Mushroom Soup, Pate, Porcini Sandwich
adapted from Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird
Porcini Jam
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (or grape juice)
  • 1/4 cup lucuma powder
  • 1 teaspoon blue diamond salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns
  • 1 cup water
Mushroom Soup
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (get as exotic assortment as you can find and afford)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup rice wine (or grape juice)
  • 1 cup Cocobiotic
  • 8 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup pate (faux gras for vegetarians, liver pate of your choice for omnivores)
  • 16 slices bread, toasted (use sprouted, gluten-free or whatever's appropriate to your diet)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, minced
Begin by making the jam. Combine dried porcini, onion, rice wine, lucuma powder, salt and pepper in a saucepan over low heat. Cook for 1 hour, adding water as needed and stirring occasionally, until it achieves a jammy consistency but isn't completely dry and stuck to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside. Puree it or leave it chunky (we did the latter).

Now make the soup: Melt ghee in a pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and salt and saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add vinegar, wine and Cocobiotic and cook 2 more minutes. Add broth and potato, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend soup so the base is thickened but there are still chunks of mushroom. (Unless you want to puree it completely smooth, in which case, do.)

Serve alongside pate, jam, bread and additional ghee. Allow your guests to make their own sandwiches. Sprinkle soup with chives as a garnish. Enjoy!