Velvety Chanterelle Mushroom Soup
If there’s one and only one silver lining to the unrelenting rainy season that is perennial to the Pacific Northwest, it is the abundance of wild mushrooms. I just love the idea that anyone can pull on some boots, trudge into the forest, and simply pluck such treasures from the ground if they care to look hard enough (and learn which types are safe and which are poison, of course). So few pleasures are free, ya know? Right now we are in peak wild mushroom season, and especially abundant at the moment is my favorite-favorite mushroom of all, chanterelle. I have not ever been foraging for mushrooms, though I would love to! But until then, the chanterelles I used for this chanterelle mushroom soup recipe were foraged locally by experts and then sold to me to the tune of $12 per pound at the farmers market (worth it).
So in taking advantage of this fleeting period of ready availability, we’ve enjoyed this creamy, velvety chanterelle mushroom soup several times in the last two weeks or so. And when I say we enjoyed it, I am understating to the max. This soup is the bees-freaking-knees. We are IN.TO.IT. I am not a good enough writer to adequately convey how wonderful it is, but I shall try. It’s somehow rich, but light at the same time. Creamy, but without cream (okay, there’s butter). The flavors are complex, but few, limited only to the fruity, buttery chanterelles, white wine, and the scent of bay leaf. As this is a blended soup there are a few steps involved, but I honestly find it a joy to make from start to finish, and there are a couple of aspects of the recipe that I think are just very smart (par for the course, as this is a Serious Eats recipe). For one, after trimming the stems of the chanterelles the trimmings are not tossed away, they steep in simmering chicken broth while the mushrooms and shallots soften and sweat in butter, wasting absolutely no part of the prized ingredient. Also, there is no cream in the recipe, rather something much more fun and satisfying- while the soup purees in the blender, chunks of butter get dropped in, one at a time, and emulsify the soup. Doing it this way results in a soup that just feels more bonded, and far more velvety than if some cream were just stirred into a pureed soup. Try it out and you’ll know exactly what I mean! The only change I make to the original recipe is omitting the fresh thyme and doubling the bay leaf. I think that the bay leaf does a better job of suggesting an herbal note, while not competing with the chanterelles, like thyme would, and always does. Thyme is very competitive.
Looking over this recipe for the first time on Serious Eats, I noticed an inventive commenter had suggested that this soup would make an excellent base for ramen. As I am scarcely able to resist a bowl of hot noods, this concept intrigued me. So I tried it, using a 1:1 ratio of chanterelle mushroom soup to chicken broth and fresh ramen noodles from a local market, and then topped it off with sliced chanterelles browned in butter and soy sauce, and a perfectly runny 6-minute egg. It rocked! Peep my ‘gram of this very excellent life decision here:
I so, so hope you’ll give this one a try!
- 1 lb. chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and split into 1" chunks (if large), trimmings reserved (see note below)
- 6 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 7 T. butter, divided
- 1 1/2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 c.), plus 1/2 shallot minced (about 2 T.)
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 T. flour
- 1 c. dry white wine
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- Slice 1/2 c. of chanterelles, set aside for garnish. Place reserved mushroom stem trimmings in a medium saucepan. Add chicken or veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a bare simmer.
- Melt 2 T. butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat (cast iron dutch oven or cocotte works great). Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms (except for reserved garnish) to pot and cook, stirring frequently, until excess liquid evaporates and mushrooms start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
- Add flour and stir to incorporate. Cook for 30 seconds. Add white wine and cook, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pan, until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Place a fine mesh strainer over the cooked mushrooms/shallots and pour the mushroom-infused broth through it. Discard mushroom scraps. Add bay leaves. Bring soup to a simmer and adjust heat to maintain a bare bubble. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Discard bay leaves and transfer about 1/2 of the soup to a blender. Close blender, put a firm hand over the lid and blend, starting on low speed and slowly getting faster. Once blender is at full speed, add 2 T. butter, 1 T. at a time, until fully incorporated. Continue blending until completely smooth. Remove to a bowl or pot (I just use the one that my broth warmed in), and repeat same process with the other half of the soup and another 2 T. butter. Place fine mesh strainer over soup pot and pour blended soup through it. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Keep warm on low heat while you make the garnish.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add reserved mushrooms and cook, tossing continuously, until browned, about 2 minutes. Add minced shallots and toss until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons water and the remaining tablespoon of butter.
- To serve, ladle soup into warm bowls and top with sautéed mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.
- To trim chanterelles, scrape the sides of the stems, up to the gills only, with a sharp paring knife, then cut off the very bottom portion of the stem. Reserve trimmings.