Here is a wonderful recipe from my partners who run incredible wine tours in Italy, Spain and Portugal!
Every fall, you'll find my piemontese husband out in the woods, poking under piles of leaves for fresh porcini. In his village, mushroom hunting is serious sport. Grown men's spirits rise or fall depending on whether they've outdone their neighbors in the pounds of mushrooms bagged in the wild.
Here in Brooklyn, I can find fresh porcini at my local farmers' market. But no matter where you are, fall is the ideal season for mushroom soup. The following recipe is a sophisticated version of the classic mushroom and barley combo: It's creamy, with a dash of sherry to add depth. I use Italian farro (an ancient grain similar to spelt), but barley works fine.
If time allows, I prefer to make my own mushroom stock, which offers a much deeper, earthier result than canned chicken or veggie stock.
1/2 cup farro (or pearl barley)
4-1/2 cups mushroom broth (see below) or reduced-sodium chicken broth divided
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup minced shallots (about 4 medium)
8 cups sliced white mushrooms (about 20 ounces)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry sherry (do not use cooking sherry)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
Bring barley and 1-1/2 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine porcini and boiling water in a medium bowl and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Line a sieve with paper towels, set it over a bowl and pour in mushrooms and soaking liquid. Reserve the soaking liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and finely chop.
Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add white mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they start to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the porcinis, celery, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until most of the sherry has evaporated, about 1 minute.
Add the soaking liquid and the remaining 3 cups broth; increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened, 18 to 22 minutes.
Add the cooked barley and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes more. Stir in sour cream until incorporated. Garnish with chives.
Recipe & photo from Eating Well magazine.
(Makes 7-8 cups)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 leek top, chopped and washed
4 garlic cloves, in their skin, crushed with the side of a knife
1 oz dried porcini (or shiitake) mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 small carrots, chopped
6 parsley springs, coarsely chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh marjoram or oregano springs
2 fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
9 cups cold water
Pour just enough water into the stockpot to start the onions cooking. Add the onion, leek top, garlic, dried mushrooms, and salt. Give the vegetables a stir, then cover the pot and cook gently over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cover with 9 cups cold water. Bring the stock to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Pour the stock through a strainer, pressing as much liquid as you can from the vegetables, then discard them.
Stock recipe from Field of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes from the Celebrated Greens Restaurant (Bantam Books 1993)