National Soup Month – Week #4
Mushroom Velouté sounds fancy but it is a straight-forward and delicious cream of mushroom soup. Please don’t begin to compare it with the canned stuff (which absolutely has its uses but can’t compare as a standalone).
“Velouté” means velvety in French and that is a perfect description for this soup. It shares its name with one of the French “mother” sauces – the sauce velouté which is made from roux and a light stock. We prefer to eat this as a dinner starter but it could work just as well as a lunch with a green salad. As always, we love a side of crusty bread.
Learning from the master
Jacques Pépin has had a long time affiliation with Boston University’s culinary program, starting off as a part-time faculty member in 1983 to his ongoing work including a lecture series at the university’s Metropolitan College named after him.
During my time in Boston, I was fortunate enough to attend several events where chef demonstrated recipes and shared stories, usually in conjunction with the launch of a new cookbook. It was at one of these events where he shared the recipe for this delicious soup.
The reason I like this recipe is because of its full-bodied mushroom flavor. It features two types of mushrooms – fresh button or crimini mushrooms and dried wood ear mushrooms.
Jacques Pépin often talks about finding older button mushrooms that are starting to open up (usually in the discount produce section) because they have more flavor. In a recipe like this where the mushrooms will ultimately be puréed, it makes sense to use these older mushrooms. I choose to use crimini mushrooms (also known as baby bellas). While similar to white button mushrooms, I think crimini mushrooms have a bit more flavor. However, if you are looking for a lighter, almost white colored soup, then use white button mushrooms.
The second featured mushroom adds both flavor and is used as a garnish – wood ear mushrooms. Usually found in Asian markets, this dried mushroom is also known as tree ear or cloud ear mushrooms. In Chinese they are known as mok yee (black or white fungus). This dried mushroom needs to be rehydrated, doesn’t lose its structure when cooked, and retains a slight crunch.
As mentioned previously, this soup makes a lovely starter for dinner. But it also works well for lunch along with a green salad. As a starter or full meal, don’t forget to serve it with some crusty bread.Print
This flavorful mushroom soup is slightly modified from Jacques Pépin’s original recipe in Fast Food My Way. It works well as a delicious lunch with some crusty bread and a salad or an elegant starter for a sit down meal.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white or crimini mushrooms
1 to 2 pieces dried tree ear mushroom*
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup sliced almonds
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Heat the butter in a saucepan, and add the shallots and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and stir well. Stir in the chicken broth, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, wash the white/crimini mushrooms, and cut them coarsely. (You should have about 7 cups). Add them to the saucepan with the dried tree ear mushroom. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes, removing the tree ear mushroom after 10 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, remove and discard any tough roots from the tree ear, chop it coarsely, and set aside for use as a garnish. (You should have about 1/4 cup.)
Sauté the almonds in a small, nonstick saucepan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until they are lightly toasted. Take them out of the pan immediately.
When the soup is cooked, emulsify it until smooth with a hand blender or in a food processor. At serving time, add the half and half to the soup and bring it back to a boil.
Serve hot with a garnish of the chopped tree ear mushroom, sliced almonds, and parsley.
* It is also known as wood ear, cloud ear, or mok yee mushroom.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Soups
- Cuisine: French
- Calories: 321.69
- Sugar: 11.9 g
- Sodium: 176.4 mg
- Fat: 18.57 g
- Saturated Fat: 8.69 g
- Carbohydrates: 31.11 g
- Fiber: 4.34 g
- Protein: 14.15 g
- Cholesterol: 36.23 mg