Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mushroom Cappuccino

        A couple of weeks ago, as I finally made the recipe catalog for my blog, my husband – on looking at the page with the soups – frowned: “And where is mushroom cappuccino?!” There was a good reason for his bewilderment: I cook this dish pretty often, probably, even once a week, because, first of all, my husband really loves it and, second, it’s very easy to make. This second reason in fact has always stopped me from putting the recipe in the blog: it seemed to be too simple and too ordinary.

         On giving it a thorough thought, however, I came to the conclusion that this soup can’t but appear in the blog. It is a fool proof variant of a beautiful dish that can be served as a starter at a very formal dinner party or as a light yet nourishing lunch on an ordinary week day. It is the dish that can be found on the menu of most of the restaurants – whether you will go to a small eatery or a posh place at a five-star hotel. It is the meal that is cooked in almost all home kitchens – experienced grandmothers and even not very strong amateur cooks manage to nail it. It is a creamy treat with earthy aroma that is enjoyed by lots of people around the world – both by unpretentious foodies and demanding gourmets. Does it mean that I can’t put a recipe of “yet another mushroom soup” here? I don’t think so! On the contrary, I feel obliged to share the recipe of one of my favourite soups – and a warm garlic and parmesan toast – that always accompanies mushroom cappuccino at our home!

Mushroom soup
200 gm mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, chopped
4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
200 ml vegetable stock
50 ml heavy cream
2 tbsp cold milk
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp porcini mushroom powder (optional)

Garlic toasts
4 slices of bread, crust removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp died parsley
4 tbsp parmesan, grated

1. For garlic toasts, preheat the oven to 180C. In a small bowl, combine the oil with garlic powder and dried parsley. Cut the bread into triangles, brush them with the mixture and put into the oven for 10 minutes. Turn onto another side, sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 5 – 7 minutes more.
2. For mushroom soup, heat oil together with butter and bay leaf in a pan. Sauté the onion till translucent, then add garlic and mushrooms, season and cook for a few minutes. Add hot stock to the pan, cover with lid and cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool slightly, discard the bay leaf, then blend until smooth.
3. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the cream and reheat gently. Divide between the bowls. Just before serving, whisk the milk till the froth forms, collect it with a ladle and place on top of the soup. Sprinkle with porcini powder and serve with warm toasts.

1. Use as many different mushrooms for the soup as possible as the diversity adds the depth to the flavour of the dish.
2. If you use dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes before cooking and partially substitute the vegetable stock with the soaking liquid.

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