Well…… I still don’t have my computer. If you could see me now you would see more steam coming out of my ears than my bowl of soup. But let’s not talk about that……….let’s talk soup.
‘Tis the season for soup. If you have followed this blog at all you know how much I love soup. Soup is winter’s salad. A bowl full of vegetables, nutrition and comfort.
This is one of my favorites. I know – you have heard that before. I have a lot of favorite soups. But that is because I can confidently say that I make a damn good bowl of soup.
Before having children I was a chef on private yachts. I worked several years for a Russian couple for whom I first served this soup. When Mr. Russian sent his bowl back, licked clean and asking for a second helping, raving that it was “just like his Grandma used to make,” I knew I had a winner. What makes this soup special is the addition of lemon and dill at the end. POW! A burst of flavor and acidity to contrast the earthy mushrooms. Stir in some creme fraiche and it’s bliss in a bowl!
For the past few weeks I have had family visiting. I love when I have visitors. It forces me to stop the daily grind and be a tourist in my adopted country. But when people visit France they not only want to see France, they want to EAT France. And who am I to argue? Why would I? So it’s safe to say that over the past few weeks there has been a lot more wine than wheatgrass in my diet………and foie gras…..and cheese…and cassoulet…..and chocolate………
So, as sad as I was to see my family go, my body was ready for a break. When I need to “cleanse” during the summer months I turn to salads. In the winter I turn to soups. It’s mushroom season here in the south of France. Woo woo! Walk through any village market this week and you will see baskets full of fresh cepes (porcini) and chanterelles – both of which I like to throw into this soup. But don’t stress – a pack of button mushrooms from the supermarket and some dried mushrooms will also do the trick!
People often ask me if I wash my mushrooms or peel them. I do neither. I find the best way to clean a mushroom is to wipe it clean with a damp paper towel. You can clean the mushroom well and get into all the cracks and crevices without losing the nutrition of the skin.
So grab your paper towel and get ready for a bowl full of goodness!
- 1.5 oz/45g dried mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon/15 ml olive oil
- 1 tablespoon/14 g of butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- 1 lb/450g mixed fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 120g/4 oz barley or farrow
- 6½ cups/1.5 liters god quality chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 1 bouquet garni (you can buy a dried one or make your own by creating a bundle with a large fresh thyme sprig, 1 bay leaf and 1 large sprig of parsley)
- 1 handful of chopped dill
- Juice of half a lemon
- Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
- Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water to reconstitute. Allow to sit for 40 min. Remove mushrooms, reserving liquid, and finely chop.
- In a large stock pot melt the butter in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and saute 5 minutes or until soft.
- Add the sliced mushrooms and gently saute for about 10 minutes, until soft.
- Add the barley or farrow, the chopped dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid and the stock and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer for about 20 min.
- Add the bouquet garni and the potato to the soup and continue to simmer until farrow/barley is tender, about another 20 min.
- Just before serving stir in the dill and lemon juice.
- Serve in bowls and top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream or creme fraiche.