MY MUSHROOM SOUP (5 to 6 servings)
Diana Kennedy, in "Nothing Fancy" (Doubleday, 1984, $16.95), says cultivated mushrooms, briefly cooked, strike her as too slimy and tasteless, so she prefers the slow-cooking method, inspired by Elizabeth David, in this recipe. While the flavor of the mushrooms is greatly enhanced, it is not as overpowering as that of dried mushrooms.
1 pound mushrooms (wild ones are best if available)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 small cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon safflower oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups well-seasoned chicken broth
1/3 to 1/2 cup cre me frai che or whipping cream
1 tablespoon madeira for each cup
Croutons and chopped chives for garnish
Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, rinsing in water only if they appear to be very sandy or have a lot of earth under the gills. Slice the mushrooms thin. Choose a shallow dish in which the mushrooms can be spread out in a double layer. Add the lemon juice, garlic, butter and oil, season lightly, and bake slowly in a 300-degree oven until they are cooked through, very brown, and the juice is quite thick and dark -- about 1 hour. (This step can also be done in a sauteur or frying pan, but the mushrooms would have to be covered and stirred frequently during the cooking time.)
Set aside a few of the mushrooms for a garnish, and transfer the rest to the blender jar. Add the broth and blend until smooth. Transfer the mushroom pure'e to a thick saucepan and heat through for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, adjust the seasoning, and heat through again for about 5 minutes, but do not allow the soup to boil.
To serve, put 1 tablespoon madeira in each soup cup, fill with soup, and garnish with croutons, chopped chives and a few of the whole mushrooms.