You will start out by making a ragout with the mushrooms, this cooks out all of the water, and brings a lot of flavor to what I think is typically a bland soup to serve. One cup of the ragout is pureed, and the other is added for texture. Instead of serving the soup with bread, I make Parmesan Crisps – a Thomas Keller influence.
I used a blend of baby portobellos, shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms. I didn’t want the soup to be too dark, so I removed the gills from the portobellos.
There are other uses for the ragout, such as topping creamy polenta, or serving it on crostinis.
Wild Mushroom Soup with Parmesan Crisps – 6 servings
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 1/4 pounds mixed mushrooms
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1/4 cup Madeira or Marsala
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tablespoon minced chives, optional for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
Parmesan Crisps – 12 crisps
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with a Silpat. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the cheese and use your fingers to spread the cheese into a 2-inch circle. Repeat with the remaining cheese; you should have about 12 rounds.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until they are golden brown, and transfer them to paper towels. They will be soft at first, but will stiffen as they cool. These can be made 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Ragout – makes 2 cups
In a large sautepan, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate; leave the fat in the sautepan.
Add the mushrooms to the sautepan and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and softened, about 8 minutes. Add the shallot and thyme, cook until the shallot is softened. Add the Madeira and cook until evaporated, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the sautepan. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper and simmer until the ragout is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add most of the pancetta to the ragout, set aside a few pieces of pancetta for garnishing the soup.
Wild Mushroom Soup
Puree 1 cup of the mushroom ragout in a blender until smooth. Transfer the puree to a medium saucepan. Add 3/4 of the remaining mushroom ragout and chicken stock, bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Divide the mushroom ragout among the 6 bowls, top with chives, 2 Parmesan crisps and some crispy pancetta.