Classic, simple, and earthy, having an excellent mushroom soup up your sleeve will serve you well. It freezes up perfectly for future homey dinners in, and has such a rich flavor in dishes like green bean casserole. I love it with crusty sourdough to sop up the little that’s left in the bowl. My subtle twist on this recipe is switching out the typical wine or vermouth for dark beer. A stout, porter, or dark ale will work just fine, and adds a lovely malty spicy bass note to the soup.
5 cups chicken stock, mushroom-soaking liquid or a combination
2 to 3 ounces dried portobello mushrooms
3 ounces butter
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound fresh mushrooms, shitaake or cremini
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dark beer
truffle oil, optional
Heat up the stock until steaming, and soak the dried mushrooms with it until soft, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. When they are tender, remove mushrooms from the soaking liquid with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid; slice or chop if the pieces are large.
Meanwhile, put the butter in a large pot that can later be covered over medium heat. When it melts, add the herb, onions and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high, and add the fresh mushrooms; add the soaked mushrooms when they’re ready. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and begin to brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the beer to the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom as the liquor starts to bubble. Add the stock or soaking liquid and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook, covered, until flavors have melded, about 15 minutes.
Discard the thyme. Reduce the heat to low, and purée the liquid with a hand-held mixer to desired consistency. (I like it half-puréed.) Add the truffle oil if you’re using it; stir to combine and let simmer for a few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning; garnish with parsley and serve.