Saturday, 8 March 2014

Portobello Mushroom Soup

Portobello Mushroom Soup | Svelte Salivations

My local market doesn't understand the use of labelling. I love shopping there, don't get me wrong, but I really think they should start labelling things properly.

So it probably doesn't matter much with things like banana, cherries, broccoli, etc. but it's very unhelpful to label various sizes, shapes and colours of potatoes all as potatoes. Oh sometimes, they put 'large potatoes', 'small potatoes', and 'washed potatoes' but that isn't very informative either. So when recipes tell you to buy some floury varieties like Desiree, Maris Piper or King Edward, I just have to guess and check.

Portobello mushrooms | Svelte Salivations

Are all flat-capped mushrooms with black gills called portobello mushrooms? A Google search of portobello mushrooms does show up mushrooms like these. The only reason I wonder is because this entire bag (weighing 1.7kg!) only cost me £1.50! Whereas, in Hong Kong, the supermarkets could sell at up to HK$40 for 4. To put that into comparable terms, that's just under £3 for 4 mushrooms. 

How crazy is the price difference?

These mushrooms certainly look, feel, and taste like the same portobellos I buy in Hong Kong. I'd love to know if they really are the same thing.

Portobello mushrooms | Svelte Salivations

I ended up with this whole bag because the man at the store convinced me that a small bag (for 50p) wouldn't be enough. "Eh pet, you sure you don't want a big bag, them mushrooms'll shrink and you'll be left with nothin', go on take a big bag"

So now I have close to 2kg of mushrooms to devour.

Diced portobello mushrooms | Svelte Salivations

The quickest way to use up as many mushrooms as possible is to make soup, I thought. So I went a-chop-chop-chopping.

Diced portobello mushrooms | Svelte Salivations

I used about half my bag - 800g ish. 

Now a lot of mushroom soup recipes call for a variety of other vegetables - potatoes, leeks, onions... but I wanted to let my shrooms shine (well also because I didn't have any of those other vegetables at hand...) so I kept the other ingredients to a minimum.

When cooking portobello mushrooms, I find they have much meatier texture and richer taste than normal white button mushrooms, so I may have been able to miss this next step. But I love mushrooms, and the more the merrier, so I soaked a small handful of dried wild mushrooms too.

Dried wild mushrooms | Svelte Salivations

With some butter sizzling on a very hot pan, I fried some minced garlic until fragrant, and then poured in my diced portobello mushrooms.

I cooked mine in two batches because I wanted to properly sauté the mushrooms, rather than boil / steam them as can happen when the pan gets overcrowded. It's like tanning on a hot beach, if it's empty and quiet then you can relax and get nicely evenly brown, but if it's crowded, you just feel like is hot and sweaty, and not in a good way!

It's tempting to stir your mushrooms, but I find that if you leave them in the pan to do their own thing,  they'll cook much better. As long as you have enough butter to cover the pan, they shouldn't stick too much. 

The mushrooms will then give off all their water, and at this point I reduced the heat to medium, and let it boil off and then begin to caramelise. Then, I used the soaking water from the dried mushrooms to deglaze any brown sticky bits from the pan.

Add in your now soaked dried wild mushrooms, all diced up too, and give a quick stir.

Top with 1L of milk and chicken stock. I used 500mL of each, but you can vary it according to how creamy you want it. Add some sprigs of thyme, and boil for 5 minutes or so.

Portobello Mushroom Soup | Svelte Salivations

If you want it smooth and creamy, scoop batches into a jug blender and blitz all the chunks of mushroom into oblivion. Now season to taste. 

Then you can just gently reheat the soup to serve, with some extra thyme, and sautéed mushrooms. 

It's magical mushroom essence, with all the notes of the outdoors - the trees, forests, muddy woodlands, and tiny sparkly fairies. The velvet texture of the soup also resembles the feel of the tops of raw mushrooms. I can see why the fairies like to perch there.  

Portobello Mushroom Soup with crusty bread | Svelte Salivations

I got a good crusty loaf of bread from my local market as well for 50p to dunk with the soup ;)

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