This happens to me in cooking a lot. Whether I knew I had nutmeg (but didn't) or have no idea what an ingredient is, let alone how to pronounce it to ask for it at the store, missing an ingredient is frustrating.
Recently, I saw a beautiful soup on Nook and Pantry that called, nay, sang to me. I like mushroom soup, but this one was promising a torrid love affair. It had chantarelles. Ooh la la, an affair with a French mushroom soup? Yes, the possibility stayed with me.
And then, just as I thought I'd overcome that temptation, it happened. Right there in Costco, in the chilly produce section. I didn't care that other people were watching. I went weak in the knees and succumbed to the package of fresh chantarelles. Throwing caution (and budget) to the wind, I picked up the chantarelles and the crimini's* next to it. I was making soup!
But then, when I got home and printed out the recipe, I hit a snag. A major snag. According to the recipe, her delicious soup owed it's flavor to dried porcini mushrooms. Argh! They didn't have those at Costco. Or Safeway. Or Trader Joe's. Or Whole Foods. I knew when I couldn't get it at Whole Foods, I was out of luck. I was even willing to pay Whole Paycheck prices, but they were out.
But I was determined now to have my soup. Those lovely mushrooms would not rot in my fridge for lack of porcinis. I turned to my trusted Splendid Soups and it did not fail me. The soup was breathtakingly beautiful and and slid over the tongue like a gossamer curtain of creamy mushroom flavor. My whole family inhaled it and made happy, contented noises. Aaaaaahhhhh. It was as satisfying as finding the missing puzzle piece and putting it in place to complete the picture.
Wild Mushroom Soup
adapted from Splendid Soups by James Peterson
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 quart chicken, vegetable or dried porcini broth
8 oz. fresh crimini mushrooms, rinsed and dried
8 oz. fresh chantarelles, carefully rinsed and dried
1 cup heavy cream
Good salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
Prepare a velouté base by cooking the onion in butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, stirring almost continuously to prevent browning. When the onion turns translucent, after about 10 minutes, add the flour and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes more to cook out the starchy taste.
Add the sherry and broth, whisking the soup to get rid of any lumps, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Put the mushrooms in a blender and add 1 cup of the hot soup base. Blend the mushrooms on high speed for about 2 minutes, adding a little more soup base if necessary to get them moving, and blend till smooth.
Put a strainer over the pot and pour the contents of the blender through it into the pot with the rest of the base. Add the cream. If you want the soup perfectly smooth, strain it through a medium- or fine-mesh strainer. Bring the soup back to a simmer and season it with salt and pepper. Ladle it into hot bowls and put a dollop of whipped cream on each serving.
* Criminis are actually baby Portabello mushrooms. It's just size and marketing that separate them. Interesting, no?