So, we're in a polar vortex according to the news reports. Tomorrow's high is expected to be -1 F. with a low of -11 below, or something on that scale. It isn't unheard of in these parts, but it is still unpleasant. As I type, Mr. ETB is outside driving the car around the neighbourhood to keep it charged and warm for the overnight. Not that it matters, I'm not going anywhere tomorrow. Oh, that's fine Canadians-you go ahead and laugh with your block heaters, and insulated houses. I know this is nothing to you guys (I went to Northern Quebec once in January-it was one of the worst experiences of my life! I had no idea it could get that cold).
I had a variety of mushrooms from the nearby Asian market, and soup sounded like the perfect response for surviving a polar vortex. I didn't have a recipe, but this turned out nicely. I used both butter, and milk in mine but you could easily veganise the soup with margarine and milk substitute. I think it would also make an interesting broth without pureeing the mushrooms.
You Will Need:
1 substantial cold-snap resulting in several days of negative temperatures (optional)
2 lbs. assorted mushrooms (I had oyster, shitake, king trumpet, and regular old button)finely sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
(about) 4-5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sherry
2 cups rich vegetable broth, heated
1/8 teaspoon smoked salt
Salt/pepper to taste
Generous pinch tarragon
Milk, cream, or liquid of your choice to thin
In a heavy pot, melt the butter (I'd start with 4 tablespoons and see if you need more) and cook the onions over medium heat until they soften. Add the mushrooms, and turn the heat up to high. You can add more butter or a drop of oil if they are sticking badly. Cook, stirring until the mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add the salt, smoked salt, pepper, and tarragon. Add half the sherry, and over high heat, cook until it is evaporated. Add the remaining sherry, and repeat the process until you have meaty, cooked mushrooms. Add the hot vegetable broth, bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. There should be enough liquid to cover the mushrooms by about an inch. If not, add water to cover. Place a lid on the pot, leaving a space to vent, and simmer until the mushrooms are very soft, and the broth is quite rich (about 1 hour).
You'll want to do this in small batches as it is hot, and you'll need to open the food processor or blender to let steam escape. Be careful here, and remember-heat expands. Puree the mushrooms leaving most of the liquid behind in the pot. As you puree each batch, return it to the broth in the large pot. When all the mushrooms have been done, return the pureed mushrooms and broth to a gentle heat, and whisk to combine.
At this point, you can add milk, cream, or a combination. I thought the butter provided enough fat, so I went with a small drizzle of cream, and used 2% milk for the rest. How much you add will depend on how thick you like your soup, and what sort of mushrooms you used. Re-warm the soup after the addition of the milk, and serve warm taking care not to boil the soup.
Serve with toast and a polar vortex.