Dried Porcini Mushroom Soup
There were times during the frenzy of Rocky Mountain porcini season, waking up at 4am in order to be on the mountain at daybreak, carrying pounds of porcini down the trail, processing mushrooms until my eyelids drooped and my back ached, shuffling endless trays of mushrooms through the dehydrator, that even I thought I had gone off the deep end.
Let me tell you, all of the effort, all of the insanity was worth it. Here's why. Now and throughout the rest of the year, whenever I desire the deep savory flavor of Rocky Mountain Boletus edulis mushrooms (wanna see some cool pictures of mushroom hunting, click through here) in a dish, all I have to do is reach my hand into the container next to the stove.
Fresh porcini mushrooms are mild and good, one of my favorite seasonal treats. Dried porcini mushrooms are a whole different animal, for they send a tidal wave of mushroom flavor through any recipe to which they are added. Many chefs refer to the soaking liquid in which dried porcini mushrooms are re-hydrated to be liquid gold. It must never be discarded.
If you don't have dried porcini mushrooms, substitute another dried mushroom, such as shitake, and season your soup with the salt of your tears. Alternately, you can use fresh button mushrooms.
Dried Porcini Mushroom Soup
1 c. dried porcini mushrooms, loosely measured
4 c. boiling water
3 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sorghum flour (substitute any flour of your choice)
4 c. whole milk
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
20 cranks black pepper
1 tsp. sherry
1. In a medium bowl, cover the dried porcini mushrooms with the boiling water, and let them stand for about 15 mintues.
2. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
3. Sweat the onion, celery, and garlic, along with the salt, in the butter until they are translucent, but not brown.
4. Use a strainer to fish the mushroom pieces out from their soaking water. Gently press them to remove most of the water, then add them to the soup pot.
5. Measure in the sorghum flour into the pot, then stir the vegetables, mushrooms, and flour around for 2 minutes.
6. Add the mushroom soaking water to the pot (be careful to pour the water out gently, leaving any grit in the bottom of the soaking bowl), and stir the mixture gently. Next add the milk, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper, and stir again.
7. As soon as the soup begins to bubble, turn it down to low. Let it gently cook at that temperature for at least 30 minutes, but an hour is better, so that all of the flavors marry.
8. Adjust the salt in the soup and stir in the sherry before serving with croutons and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.
Now that you're craving dried porcini mushroom soup, you can learn how to find your own here.