One of my first quarantine projects was taking everything out of my kitchen cabinets and drawers, cleaning the surfaces and reorganizing the contents. I had an appliance drawer that was a chaotic mess with attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer, hand mixer, food processor and immersion blender scattered all over the place. It was like an Easter egg hunt to find the right attachment when I needed it!
This project also reminded me of all of the appliances we have in our kitchens that end up in the back of a drawer or cabinet collecting dust. This inspired me to create a challenge for our #tcbcookingclub in our private Facebook group this week: cook a dish using a kitchen tool or appliance you have but haven't used in a while. It's been a lot of fun seeing how home cooks are rekindling their love for the equipment they already own.
When I thought about what I was going to make for this challenge, I knew I had to use my Vitamix blender. I love my Vitamix, and I used to use it daily to make a breakfast smoothie. However, at the beginning of the year I started intermittent fasting which eliminated breakfast. Although I know it's sad to relegate such a powerful machine to simply smoothie making, I just hadn't used my beloved blender in a while. So, I settled on a soup that could be pureed in it.
Since I'm a little obsessed with mushrooms, I wanted to make a creamy, satisfying mushroom soup. I recently grew my own shiitake mushrooms with a cute little DIY kit I purchased on sale at World Market. This would be a great project for the kids at home right now if you can find one of these. Within just 10 days, I had a whole slew of fresh mushrooms!
I made a lovely pizza with these mushrooms, pepperoni and banana peppers. I was so intrigued by this little project, I decided to sign up for a hands-on workshop on how to inoculate logs with mushroom spawn to grow even more shiitake mushrooms. We learned how to harvest wood and prepare logs by drilling holes in them, packing in the mushroom spawn and sealing the holes and ends of the logs with wax. We all went home with four inoculated logs that I have been religiously watering with hopes of a big mushroom harvest this fall!
So it's no surprise that I decided to make a mushroom soup for this week's cooking challenge. This soup is adapted from a recipe from The Kitchn and is a silky soup that's packed with mushroom flavor. That flavor punch is achieved by using dried mushrooms as well as fresh mushrooms. You will reconstitute the dried mushrooms and add them to the soup as well as their umami-rich soaking liquid. With a pound of cremini mushrooms, I can promise you'll taste buttery browned mushrooms in every bite!
Once the soup is done cooking, part of it is pureed to add some body to the soup. It's finished with a touch of half and half or heavy cream for a hint of richness.
Here are some pro tips as you make this soup:
- Dried mushrooms can contain some dirt and grit, so it's important to strain the mushrooms from the broth using a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Be sure to reserve that tasty liquid.
- The original recipe called for dried thyme and while thyme and mushrooms are a perfect pair, I switched it up by using Herbs de Provence. If you haven't cooked with this herb blend before, I highly recommend it. The typical recipe includes dried basil, parsley, lavender, tarragon, parsley, oregano, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Our Owner/Chef Shelley Young grows all of these herbs in her garden and dries them to make TCB's Herbs de Provence salt.
- Cleaning mushrooms can be a controversial subject (just ask my mom!), but I think a mushroom brush is the way to go. You can easily scrape of bits of dirt into the kitchen sink and still maintain the integrity of the mushroom by not getting it wet.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
This recipe was adapted from The Kitchn's version.
Serves: 4 to 6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dried Herbs de Provence
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream if that's what you have)
- Fresh chives for garnish
1. Place 1 ounce dried mushrooms in a medium heatproof bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Soak until mostly softened, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, dice 1 medium yellow onion and mince 2 garlic cloves. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 pound sliced cremini mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are softened and have released their juices, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs de Provence and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
3. Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the dried mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add to the pot.
4. Sprinkle flour into the pot and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook until lightly browned, stirring regularly, about 2 minutes. Pour in 4 cups chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Stir in the reserved soaking liquid from the mushrooms, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the flavor is developed and the soup is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
5. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
6. Stir the purée back into the pot. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup half and half. Garnish with fresh chives and serve.
To get in our cooking challenges, join The Chopping Block's private Facebook group. We're also helping you meal plan from your fridge, freezer and pantry while we are all trying to limit trips to the grocery store. Be a part of the conversation around cooking!