I think I started liking mushroom soup the minute I ate it. At the time — I musta been about 7 or so — my favourite mushroom soup came out of a can, a red and white iconic can (come on, you can guess which one I mean, right?). Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one in the family who loved mushroom soup and so any hope of a second helping was slim (and that's on a good day).
When I eat out and I spy soup on the menu, I usually order mushroom. Sometimes, I deviate when I spy another favourite on the menu — pumpkin. Oh my. Once, I decided to be adventurous and ordered a split pea soup and lived to regret it — it wasn't bad y any means but it didn't stroke my soul the way a good mushroom soup does.
I like my mushroom soup thick and dark, creamy and rich. I like it peppery. I like it slightly chewy. I like my mushroom soup with a little sour cream or yoghurt on top and croutons. Must have croutons. Parsley is good. Basil is nice. Garlic? Sure.
Making mushroom soup isn't complicated. You need mushrooms, some form of allium, liquid, cream/thickener and seasoning.
I like to use different types of mushrooms in my soup, and I often experiment with different combinations — just for fun. Yeah, I know I perhaps need to go out more if this constitutes fun for me, eh? Today I used three types: baby portobello, brown button mushrooms and white oyster mushrooms.
While mushrooms are naturally the star of the soup, an important ingredient is the allium. I often use a little garlic and red onions but today I went with leeks and a couple of cloves of garlic.
To dilute the soup, you can use water or stock. I used a combination of both, more stock than liquid though.
To thicken the soup and add an element of creaminess, I used milk this time around. Sometimes, I use a light cream. Some cooks use flour or a white sauce like the béchamel but I have yet to give that a go. I also added a tablespoon or so of plain yoghurt for a slightly sourish taste. You can omit the yoghurt, no problem.
A bay leaf adds flavour and fragrance and of course, seasoning of salt and black pepper.
To garnish, I used croutons, sauteed button mushrooms, chopped basil and some shredded cheese. Jamie Oliver adds a little lemon juice and zest which I've tried and quite like too.
Wholesome Mushroom Soup
600g mushrooms, roughly chopped (set aside some quartered buttons for garnish if you like)
1/3 cup sliced leeks
1 litre stock/water
1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup cream)
1 tbsp yoghurt (optional)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
a couple of basil leaves, chopped
Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil/butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the mushrooms and toss till they brown a little and then add the leeks. Let the two cook till soft and the moisture disappears and season with salt and pepper.
Add the stock/liquid and bring to a light boil.
Transfer soup to a blender and puree it roughly/to your satisfaction. I like my soup a little chunky so I just pulse it a few times in the blender.
Return the soup to the heat. If it's too thick, add some water. Add the bay leaved as when it starts to simmer add the milk/cream. Season and cook till it starts to boil.
For the garnish
Melt some butter in a saucepan and saute the mushrooms till nice and brown. Season lightly.
Cut bread into cubes and toast lightly in the same pan that was used to cook the mushroom garnish (this way the croutons will get some extra flavour.
Arrange the mushrooms, croutons and basil on your soup and, if you want, drizzle some olive oil or lemon juice on as well — don't overdo it though!