Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mushroom Soup with cavolo nero and yukon gold potatoes

Recipe number one!

Why this one? Cause I got awesome ingredients at the New Amsterdam Market that were a perfect fit for this recipe. I did it because that's what the ingredients told me to do - which is part of my goal here - to eat seasonally driven food. Look at this Hen of the Woods mushroom from Wild Gourmet. It was very, very fresh and had unbelievable flavor:

This recipe made use of three other embedded recipes: the sachet, the mushroom stock, and the garlic puree. I started with the mushroom stock. Remembering that I am cutting down recipes as need be, I only made a half recipe of the mushroom stock. I started by putting the leek greens, onion, carrot and button mushrooms in the food processor.

I promise that the Fresca in the photo is not mine. But I did have some. It was a crime of opportunity. You'd take a swig if it was that close to you...

I finely chopped the mushrooms and aromatics in the food processor and then added water:

This combination simmered for about 45 minutes while I prepared the other components like the garlic confit:

Once the cloves were softened and had cooled I put them through a tamis and ended up with garlic (confit) paste. Edit: The garlic puree is stirred into the mushroom broth in the final assembly. Because it is cooked slowly for a long time, there is not a lot of bite, just a nice, soft garlic note:

Next, I sauteed the Hen of the Woods mushroom in two batches:

I also "big pot" blanched the kale (cavolo nero) and cooking the potatoes with the sachet (you'll notice that I didn't take the time to wrap the sachet ingredients with cheesecloth - I didn't do it because the potato pieces were large enough to pick out cleanly for the finished dish). I will tell you that the potatoes cooked separately with the aromatics of the sachet were unreal on their own. So good.

Now that the individual components were ready, it was time to assemble the finished product.

One thing that is clear in this recipe is that each component is given the consideration necessary to be a contributing player in the final dish. The stock is layered with flavor (and gilded with the garlic puree), the final soup has leeks, onion and carrot for additional flavor (cooked under a parchment lid no less);

the potatoes are cooked separately and flavored by the sachet (additional layers of flavor), and the mushrooms are sauteed separately and seasoned separately to add even more complexity. This is not a one-pot-dish. It is a familiar dish (mushroom soup) with a complex flavor worth the extra effort. The final result? Awesome. Would I cook it again? Yes. Would I serve it to guests? You bet.

Confession: Okay, fine. I'll admit it (in the spirit of full disclosure). I forgot stuff. Rookie mistake. No need to yell. I forgot to hit my final dish with a little vinegar and olive oil. BUT, I did remember to do it for my lunch the next day and it made a HUGE difference - in a good way. The addition added to the layers of flavor - a nice bite from the vinegar and a nice richness/bite from the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I just got so excited as I finished my first dish that I wanted to eat it. Right now. So I jumped the gun. I'll try not to do it again. But I probably will. Sorry.

Sources (I will provide the prices as available):
Hen of the Woods Mushroom from Wild Gourmet (via NA Market) - $32/lb
Button mushrooms, spanish onion, carrot, potatoes and kale from Wegmans
Leeks from Health Shoppe (via NA Market) $2.99/bunch

Edit 10/29/09 for clarity


  1. Fantastic. I love mushrooms in any form and this has got my mouth watering. I guess I know what I will be making this weekend. Keep it up


  2. I tried this one too. I have to first state that I'm jealous of your having a tamis at home. I thought it was good, but I don't know if this is a dish I would feel compelled to cook over and over again. I was a little confused by his instructions in cutting the potatoes. It seemed like into quarters and then again is cutting into eigths? or did he mean cut each quarter into four pieces. Anyway, I would definitely make them smaller. I also skipped the cheescloth because the potatoes were so big, and quite honestly, I'd run out of cheesecloth (I'm beginning to think I need to buy this in bulk anymore). Definetely agree about the vinegar. The olive oil at the end was some nice richness. My partner called it gnome soup as it looks so woodsy.

    A question though, did you mess up on the parchment lids? I tried to look at the pictures, and I kept on coming up with a half-circle. Finally I decided to use my brain and think about how to do it myself and it worked fine after two folds, but the directions seemed deceptive to me.

    Also, no farmer I talked to knew what on earth tuscan kale was, and I wish it had just stated lacinato or dino, which are the familiar terms to me. After an internet search I was like, why not just call it dino kale!

    And those mushrooms you got were so expensive!! I'd keep an eye out. I got mine for $15/lb. but that might just be my location.

  3. The mushrooms were really expensive - I believe that hen of the woods are a mushroom that can be cultivated - these were wild and were foraged the day before. Being wild probably didn't change the flavor significantly - but they were what I had available. I was hoping to pay around $15. Maybe if I would learn to identify and forage on my own, I wouldn't have this problem.

    In re: the parchment lid - I thought I would fail miserably but somehow it worked out. I had to recut the end a couple of times to get a good fit but no significant issues.

    The kale I just grabbed at the grocery store. I know that I am not going to have access to quite the variety Keller has in the Napa Valley and in the FL garden.