Wild Mushroom Soup
One of my favorite sights in the fall is the appearance of the wild-mushroom sellers in the Paris markets. Freshly foraged from the forest floor, the mushrooms come in all shapes, sizes and colors, their sylvan origins confirmed by the pine needles still clinging to them.
A velvety-smooth cream soup is the perfect vehicle to show off the deep flavors of these seasonal treats. You can use any combination of wild mushrooms you like or showcase a single variety if you prefer. Wild mushrooms can get expensive, so if budget is a concern, feel free to substitute up to half of the mushrooms in this recipe with cultivated ones, such as cremini, portobello or even button—just bear in mind that since these contain more water, they will take a little longer to cook.
While this soup tastes creamy and decadent, the texture comes not from cream but from the velouté, a classic French mother sauce made by thickening stock (and in this case, a bit of milk for that creamy flavor) with roux—butter and flour cooked together. Normally you’d have to strain such a sauce, but since this soup is puréed smooth, straining is less of a concern.
The woodsy scent of rosemary is the perfect complement to the earthy mushrooms. Stirring some into crème fraîche makes a simple, harmonious garnish. Serve this soup as the first course for an elegant, market-inspired meal.
Velouté de Champignons Sauvages
Serves 4 as a starter.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
pinch of fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt (use truffle salt for extra impact)
2 tablespoons (1 oz or 30 g) unsalted butter
2 heaping tablespoons (1 oz or 30 g) flour
3 cups (700 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces (350 g) wild mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
splash of white wine
a few sprigs of fresh parsley and rosemary, for garnish
1. Mix the crème fraîche, minced rosemary and salt and set aside. Clean the mushrooms and slice them if they’re large.
2. In a medium saucepan or soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the flour and stir. Cook until the flour starts to smell toasty, then gradually whisk in the stock and milk. Bring to a simmer, skimming any scum that rises to the top, and cook for 20–30 minutes, until it feels smooth on the tongue. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add the shallot, then the mushrooms, and cook on high heat for 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms release their liquid and most of it evaporates. Season with a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper, and add the garlic, cooking until the mushrooms start to brown and the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute more. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine and remove from heat.
4. Set aside a few pretty mushrooms for garnish, then add the rest to the soup pot with the velouté. Simmer for 10–15 minutes to meld the flavors. Purée using an immersion blender, or in batches in a traditional blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
5. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, and garnish with mushrooms, fresh rosemary and parsley leaves. Drizzle with the rosemary cream and serve hot.
Editor’s note: If you are a foodie heading to Paris, why not download one of our three gourmet walking tours?
Camille Malmquist is an American pastry chef living and working in Paris. In her spare time, she cooks and bakes at home (believe it or not), as well as tackles the difficult task of trying out as many restaurants and bakeries as possible, then she blogs about her food and travel adventures at Croque-Camille.