Honestly, I cannot remember a time when Mio Marito and I have not looked forward to a meal at Union Square Cafe in New York City. Don’t ask me to name my favorite dish at Union Square Cafe there are so many but this post will strictly honor one – Creamless Mushroom Soup. Yes, at first mention I was skeptical, I mean using the word creamless to describe a soup somehow indicates that it should include cream, right?
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe is an institution which in many ways has been responsible for the trends in local eating which so many of us take for granted today. Alas, change is never easy and our beloved dining spot off of Union Square has come to an end. Fortunately for it’s devoted cliental, a nearby location is in the works.
Creamless Mushroom Soup is a hearty blending of vegetables with heaps of mushrooms brought together when emulsified becomes a rich, intense bowl of woodsy heaven. Including dried porcini mushrooms gives Creamless Mushroom Soup an unbelievable depth of flavor. The original recipe calls for chicken stock which brings an additional dimension to the soup, but I was striving for something vegetarian and simply substituted fresh water along with the soaking liquid from the dried porcini mushrooms.
Creamless Mushroom Soup is easy and elegant; a perfect dinner along with a good piece of cheese and crusty bread, or a delightful first course for Thanksgiving. After one taste, you will understand why the qualifier creamless is used – no one would ever believe that such full bodied soup doesn’t include even an ounce of cream.
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- 1½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1½ cup of very warm fresh water
- 2½ pounds of white button
mushrooms,cleaned of any soil using a dry cotton towel
- 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
- 1½ cups of peeled and coarsely chopped carrots
- 2 stalks of celery, trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 2 leeks - washed well of all dirt and sliced
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cups of fresh cool water
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Chopped chives for garnish
- Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl with the 1½ cups of fresh warm water, allow to sit to rehydrate the mushrooms.
- Heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy stockpot, enameled cast iron works very well. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots, stirring occasionally until soft - about 5 minutes. Now add the onions and continue to cook together with the shallots until they become soft and translucent. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground pepper before adding the carrots, celery, and leeks. Stir well to combine and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Drain the porcini mushrooms, retaining the soaking liquid. Run your fingers over the rehydrated mushroom pieces to remove any resulting dirt particles. Gently strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve or coffee filter to catch any soil residue. As you approach the last of the soaking liquid, you may want to discard it as this is generally where any soil particles settle.
- Add the white mushrooms to the stockpot, adjust the heat to medium high and give the contents a good stir. Cook until all of the mushrooms are soft and the liquid begins to release - about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms and combine well, cooking for another 2 minutes.
- Pour the 5 cups of water and the strained porcini cooking liquid to the stockpot and bring the contents to a simmer. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes.
- Using and immersion blender or blender emulsify the soup until is becomes a thick rich puree. If using a blender, wait until the contents have been suitably cooled. The soup may be served immediately or refrigerated to be used then next day. Garnish with some chopped chives