Create Your Own Bite #29
1 Ounce of Porcini Mushrooms, Dried
1 Teaspoon Vegetable Base
1/2 Cup Cremini Mushrooms, Sliced
1/2 Cup White Button Mushrooms, Sliced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 Cup White Onion, Sliced
2 Cups Water
2 Cloves of Garlic, Pressed
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Estimated Calories: 75 Per Serving (Makes 4, 1/2 Cup Servings)
Weeks and weeks ago, I touted the divine Zuppa Del Giorno at Petrarca Cucina E Vino in TriBeCa. I gushed about the cream-free porcini broth, the thick slices of cremini and button mushrooms, the earthy aroma…and promised my healthy interpretation of this traditional Italian soup.
Well, you know how that goes. One minute you’re in your Brooklyn kitchen rehydrating mushrooms, and the next you’re eating ten different types of grits in North Carolina, or sampling a variety of gluten-free quinoa crisps.
I feel very fortunate that the past few weeks have brought me to events such as the TerraVITA Food Festival, and the Cure Celiac NYC Launch Party (more on that next week!) But nothing is better for a tired body, or mind, than a hot bowl of healthy mushroom soup. Which is exactly what I need tonight, and what I decided to share with you on this brisk Sunday evening.
As I mentioned in my epic round-up of masterful mushroom dishes in New York City and Boston, I’ve been long-pressed to find a mushroom soup that was delicious, without being laden with butter and cream. This version is entirely vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, low-calorie, sugar-free, carb-free, you name it.
It’s basically a healthful, filling bowl of mushrooms.
To start, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot with the vegetable stock base. I use Better Than Bouillon – entirely organic and vegan. When the water comes to a boil, add the dried porcini mushrooms. Make sure to brush off sediment, and remove any stems or leaves, as they are very much present in packaged dried mushrooms.
Lower the heat until the mushrooms are just simmering – and allow them to rehydrate for at least 20 minutes. The porcini mushrooms, when fully cooked, should not be at all tough for chewy. I left mine to simmer for nearly 35 minutes.
When ready, take the mushrooms off the heat, and let them to sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they are just becoming translucent. Add in the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook very briefly, until the garlic is beginning to soften. Do not allow the onions or the garlic to brown. Next, add in your sliced raw mushrooms.
A Little Note: Cremini and button mushrooms are my personal favorites for this soup, but you can experiment with hen-of-the-woods, shiitake, and more. I would avoid oyster mushrooms and enoki mushrooms, however, as they are typical of Asian cuisine and have a distinct flavor profile.
Another Little Note: Make certain to cut your mushrooms – whichever varieties you choose – into thin and uniform slices, so that they cook quickly and at the same rate.
Saute for a minute or two, or until the mushrooms begin to release their moisture. Take off the heat, and set aside.
Return to your pot of porcini mushrooms and broth. When rehydrating porcini mushrooms, there’s the problem of residual sediment to deal with, no matter how well you prepared them. If you have a cheese cloth, or fine colander, you can strain out the mushrooms this way. Make sure to reserve all the broth.
If, like me, you are cooking with a rudimentary kitchen and meager supplies, allowing the mushrooms to rest after cooking will encourage most of the sediment to settle to the bottom of the pot. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, pressing each to remove additional broth as you go. Add the porcini mushrooms to the onion and mushroom mixture on the stove.
After removing all the mushrooms, allow the sediment to settle again. Carefully measure out at least two cups of broth, and add this to the mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Return soup to a simmer, and take off the heat just before the soup boils.
This, my friends, is the most simple, basic mushroom soup – it’s easy to make, and the flavor is 100 percent earthy, rich mushroom. I’ve experimented with a few variations – a diced Roma tomato, sauteed with oregano, added in before reheating leftovers – and a version with mint and thyme.
These, in fact, are delicious. But entirely unnecessary.
If you’re not concerned about keeping this dish vegan, a teaspoon or two of fresh grated parmesan on top makes for a wonderful garnish.
If you’re not concerned about keeping this dish gluten-free, a teaspoon or two of flour, cooked into the soup in those final minutes, will thicken up the broth nicely.
But au natural, this triple mushroom soup is a fantastic option for entertaining. It’s allergen-free, filling, and can easily be consumed as a double portion for a filling dinner – and still only 180 calories.
I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making soups from scratch – but this mushroom soup was more than worth the effort; which was surprisingly little. All you really need is patience, to allow the porcini mushrooms to rehydrate completely and release their strong, musky flavor into the broth.
This broth alone is a great starting point for a number of vegetable soups (and serves as a particularly excellent vegetarian alternative to beef broth). Try making twice as much, and freezing the leftovers. With an entire reserve of porcini mushroom broth at your disposal, your next soup creation will be twice as easy to develop.
Until next time,