This is one of those beautiful soup recipes that can be created 100% from your local farmers market produce, even in the thick of winter. Onions, potatoes, garlic, mushrooms and herbs are some of the staple items these markets build on in winter (plus a wonderful selection of bread, cheese and jarred goods). This week I went a little crazy at the River Valley Ranch mushroom stand and purchased about 6 pounds of mushrooms for my Mushroom-Asparagus Strata which I plan to make for our weekly supper club which is themed Breakfast for Dinner this week, for a green bean casserole I plan to make for Christmas (more to come on these in the next few days), and for this soup. I had the poor guy at the stand separating Creminis, Shitakes and Oysters into 3 separate bags of various sizes, rummaging through my list while I counted pounds off on my fingers. Needless to say, Tom crept back into the crowd, ashamed of my torture of the local mushroom man and my embarrassingly horrible mental math skills. I was embarrassed not in the least! It’s winter, I’m carrying my coat and my hat and my scarf, a new bottle of hot sauce, a bag of lettuce…and I could hardly be his most difficult customer of the day…right? I also picked up a new barrel-aged hot sauce from my new favorite local hot sauce supplier CO-OP (who also makes a great Ghost Pepper and Grapefruit hot sauce which I have been unable to stop raving about for weeks).
The aromas emanating from this soup while cooking are reason enough to make it. It just smells so good. I was actually a little concerned in the early stages of cooking that the dish would be overwhelmingly rich but it is actually very well-rounded, subtly highlights each of the individual flavors. Tom’s 8 year-old nephew even finished the bowl. The addition of Worcestershire and sherry (or red wine) brings out the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and the hot sauce adds a nice, gentle kick (although I doubled the hot sauce). If you still have not picked up the Soup & Bread Cookbook, get out there and pick it up.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cups chopped mixed mushrooms
1 1/2 cups carrot, finely diced
2 1/3 cups peeled potato, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, minced
1/2 cup sherry or dry red wine
5 1/3 cup vegetable broth or water
2 large bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Sauté: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender and slightly browned (7 minutes). Add mushrooms, cover and cook on a lower heat until the juices release from the mushrooms (5 minutes). Uncover, raise the heat to medium and cook until the mushrooms are tender (7-10 minutes).
Reduce: Add carrots, potatoes and garlic and stir. Add wine or sherry and cook until the vegetables are coated and the sauce has reduced to a glaze (2-3 minutes).
Boil: Add broth or water. Add springs of thyme and bay leaves, preferably tied so as to easily be removed. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until all vegetables are tender (20 minutes). Remove bay leaves and thyme. Puree one cup of the soup in a food processor or puree slightly with an immersion blender. Chowder should remain slightly chunky but the puree will add a heartier texture to the broth.
Cream and Season: Add cream and return to boil. Reduce to medium and boil until slightly reduced (10 minutes). Add Worcestershire sauce. Season soup with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Garnish with croutons and chopped fresh thyme.
Adapted from West Town Tavern Wild Mushroom Chowder by Susan Goss as published in the Soup & Bread Cookbook.