For anyone who's only tasted canned mushroom soup before, this recipe for homemade mushroom soup will be a revelation.
Missouri’s Bootheel and the country of Japan share a mycological treasure, climates, water and timber perfect for cultivating mushrooms. Leave it to a clever Englishwoman to figure that out.
Nicola Macpherson is St. Louis’ ‘mushroom lady’. Her company, Ozark Forest, grows shiitake and oyster mushrooms year-round on a family farm using renewable, sustainable and organic agro-forestry practices.
First, specially harvested oak limbs are inoculated with mushroom spawn, then left to incubate for six to nine months. Once they’re soaked in spring water for 24 hours, the mushrooms are ready to pick in just a few days.
Ozark Forest mushrooms are mostly purchased by local restaurants. But keep a look-out for a woman with a lovely English accent peddling mushrooms at weekend fairs and farmers markets. Until then, use fresh mushrooms from the supermarket which also yield a luscious pot of creamy soup.
KITCHEN CLASSIC: MUSHROOM SOUP
Time to table: Preferably 24 hours
Makes 4 cups
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms (see ALANNA’s TIPS), trimmed, chopped fine
- 1/2 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Grated nutmeg (see TIPS)
Bring broth to a boil in the microwave.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter on medium. Add the onion and sweat (see TIPS) for about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms as they’re prepped, cook til just beginning to soften. Stir in flour, then slowly add hot broth, stirring the whole time. Bring to a boil, adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer. Let cook for about an hour, til mushrooms are soft. Stir in milk, cream and sherry; heat through but do not boil. Season to taste.
Cool and refrigerate for 24 hours for flavor to develop. Before serving, gently rewarm but don’t let boil. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with nutmeg. Savor every spoonful.
I like to keep food recognizable, making it clear what's on a plate or inside a bowl. So when making the soup for the photograph here, I broke apart the mushroom caps into large chunks, a technique first learned with the World's Best Green Bean Casserole and used many times since. That said, for this soup, I think the texture is better when the mushroom pieces are chopped small and that will be my choice in the future. On occasion, I've lightened this soup considerably by using Smart Balance instead of butter and fat-free half 'n' half for the milk and cream. I've also thickened it with arrowroot rather than flour but have learned to do the thickening at the very end of cooking, rather than the beginning.
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