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Want soup? You got it

October 15, 2003|Cindy Dorn | Times Staff Writer

The days are growing shorter, the shadows getting longer, and readers -- several in one week -- are requesting mushroom soup recipes.

Mushroom soup always soothes and warms, but these days, it's the furthest thing from nursery food imaginable. It can be spicy or rich, made with clear broth or cream, with shiitakes or creminis -- but it's never bland.

The three mushroom soups we tested were so distinctive, we decided to share all the recipes. Make one for a special occasion, another to get through a gray afternoon, and yet another to brighten a weekday supper.

Cream of mushroom soup with Sherry and Brie is from the California Grill at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel. It was developed by chef Tom O'Keefe to serve at wedding receptions. "We had a mushroom soup that we wanted to make into a specialty soup. I'm a Sherry and Brie freak, so that was the first thing we tried, and it was great. Then we experimented with the artichoke hearts, and we liked that too."

To make the mushroom sundubu (mushroom tofu soup), chef Hahn Kim of Young Dong Tofu Restaurant in Arcadia began with a traditional Korean soup made with oyster mushrooms. He then added enoki mushrooms, which are not available in Korea.

Kim likes the size and texture of the enoki -- "It's so pretty," he says -- and encourages cooks trying his recipe to experiment with different mushrooms, as he did.

Kim makes this soup in a clay stew pot, which can be found at Korean grocery and home stores. "The minerals add flavor and are good for you," says Kim, adding that it's also fine to use a metal saucepan, as we did in The Times' Test Kitchen.

Marmalade Cafe's mushroom soup is made with generous amounts of two kinds of mushrooms flavored with thyme, then simmered in a Port-richened broth for a deep, woodsy flavor.

Says chef Richard Vidal, "The thyme enhances the earthy flavor of the mushrooms, and the Port adds just a hint of sweetness as it's cooked down."

Mellowed with cream and pureed in the pot to a silky smoothness, this mushroom soup boasts complex flavors, but can make a simple, satisfying meal.


Cream of mushroom soup with Sherry and Brie

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 10

Note: Requested by Jackie Haddox. At the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel, the soup is presented in individual bowls with little toques of puffed pastry, a homage to hotel food of the past when "en croute" was often added to menu items to gussy them up. (Cut puff pastry circles an inch wider than the bowls, brush both sides with egg wash, place on each bowl of soup and bake until golden brown.) To simplify, top instead with a French-bread crouton.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms, or 3 ounces

1 1/2 cups sliced oyster mushrooms, or 3 ounces

1 cup sliced button mushrooms, or 3 ounces

1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup Sherry

4 ounces (about 1 cup) Brie (rind removed)

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup flour

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1. Melt the butter in a 4 1/2--quart pan over low heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, thyme and mushrooms, then saute till onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the artichoke hearts and cook for 3 minutes until heated through.

3. Add the Sherry and Brie and continue to cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, until the Brie melts.

4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

5. Make a roux by stirring the butter and flour together in a small saucepan and cooking over low heat for about 8 minutes. Add the roux to the soup slowly to prevent lumps from forming and cook for 10 minutes until the soup thickens.

6. Add the cream and white pepper and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Each serving: 357 calories; 6 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 33 grams fat; 20 grams saturated fat; 108 mg. cholesterol; 536 mg. sodium.


Mushroom soup with Port and thyme

Total time: 2 hours

Servings: 8 servings

Note: Requested by Betty Waldt and Laurie Moar. From Marmalade Cafe in Westlake Village.

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup celery, diced

3 cups white onions, minced

2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons thyme leaves, divided

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms, divided

1 pound button mushrooms

2 cups Port wine

8 cups chicken stock

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy stockpot on medium-low heat. Add the celery, onions, garlic, 2 tablespoons thyme and white pepper and saute over low heat until the vegetables are nearly tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Reserve eight cremini mushrooms (to use later for garnish), then mince the remaining cremini and button mushrooms in a food processor.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pot and continue to saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

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