I love Patricia Wells’ My Master Recipes book. I don’t use her recipe for Mushroom Soup, because it starts out with 2 cups of heavy cream, but I did learn the technique that makes my mushroom soup the best ever. Her lesson is infusing dried porcini mushroom powder in a liquid for the start of delicious mushroom soup.
Once you learn this, you’ll also see that you can mix porcini powder in other stock or even wine to add huge depth of flavor to other soups, stews, and sauces. TV chefs lately have been talking about umami flavor. This technique brings it in buckets.
How to Make Porcini Mushroom Powder
With your fingers, break the dried porcini mushrooms into about ½-inch pieces into your mini-prep food processor. Close the processor and put a finger over the hole in the lid. Run the processor on “grind” until the porcinis are powdered. You’ll probably need to stop and let it rest a few minutes, but continue on. It’s best to powder what you need each time to keep it fresh, but any excess can be kept a while in a tight spice container.
The dried porcini are available at many sources. Don’t be shocked at the price! There’s a lot of bulk to the ounce. I bought about 2 cups for just over $7, enough for several batches of soup. I find mine at Central Market in Dallas — if that’s not convenient, they are also available at Atlantic Spice Company for 8 ounces at $11.95 (best price) and, of course, at Amazon for $14.95 for 3 ounces. Google shows many options but do check your grocery store first.
Ultimate Porcini Mushroom Soup Recipe
Makes six servings of about 6 ounces each
• 2 tbsp porcini powder
• 2 tbsp Better Than Bouillon chicken paste (see note below)
• 2 cups water
• 1 small onion, diced small
• 8 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, diced small
• 2 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• pinch sea salt
• 1 cup dry white wine
• freshly ground pepper to taste
• a dash or two of ‘espelette’ pepper if available (see my previous post for how to grow and dry your own)
• 1 cup whole milk or more if you want
To serve (optional): Mix in some cream – half and half or heavy — and garnish with a little cut chives or an edible flower.
1. The day before: Mix up the Better Than Bouillon chicken paste and the water in a quart-sized jar and add the porcini powder. Mix in the powder and refrigerate overnight, at least 8 hours. This softens the porcini powder and infuses the stock with intense mushroom flavor.
2. In a medium pot, 3-quart works well, melt the butter in the extra virgin olive oil. Add the diced onion and mushrooms and a pinch of salt and sauté gently until very tender. Don’t brown at all, but be sure the mushrooms release their liquid. Add the Porcini-infused Better Than Bouillon stock and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes, then add the wine. Bring to a simmer again for a few minutes. Grind in the pepper generously to taste. Taste for salt and add sea salt as needed.
The soup can be made ahead and frozen at this point.
3. Add the milk and heat but don’t boil the soup. Add cream if you want the soup even richer. You’ll decide how much milk and cream you want for the desired richness.
Serve hot in small-ish portions. This soup is rich.
Note: Regarding the Better Than Bouillion for stock: Some time ago, on an America’s Test Kitchen episode, the staff did a taste testing of store-bought chicken stock. The organic brand I had in my cupboard was pronounced “possum road kill”. Another brand was voted best taste, but Better Than Bouillon was the runner-up for taste and then pronounced the best buy, because a small jar keeps in the ‘fridge for up to 2 years. I wouldn’t be without it. Soups, gravies…
Wendy Akin is a happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.