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Wild Mushroom Soup with Blue Cheese Toasts

A warm bowl of this soup is a welcome treat in the cold depths of winter. The fresh wild mushrooms preferred for this recipe are porcini, hedgehogs, chanterelles or shiitakes; if unavailable, substitute fresh button mushrooms.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 2 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean
     and coarsely chopped
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 lb. fresh wild mushrooms, brushed clean
     and thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

For the blue cheese toasts:

  • 2 oz. blue cheese, such as Roquefort, Stilton or
     Gorgonzola, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 baguette slices, lightly toasted
  • 2 Tbs. finely snipped fresh chives

Directions:

To make the soup, in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, melt 1 1/2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the button mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms, stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Add the fresh wild mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Using a blender and working in batches, puree the soup until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes for each batch. Alternatively, process with a stick blender in the pot. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean soup pot. Add the cream and sautéed wild mushrooms and stir to combine. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Place over medium heat and reheat to serving temperature.

To make the toasts, in a small bowl, mash together the blue cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the cheese onto the toasted baguette slices and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil until the cheese is bubbling around the edges, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the broiler and sprinkle with the chives.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and float a blue cheese toast in the center of each bowl. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Winter, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).