A Boozy Wild Mushroom Soup


 By Danielle Frum

The arrival of fresh wild mushrooms in the farmer's market always transports me back to Poland, and the cookbook I co-wrote with historian Anne Applebaum, From a Polish Country House Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 2012).  Above are a sampling of mushrooms our photographers Bogdan and Dorota Bialy collected one day when we were photographing the book at Anne's Polish summer house. 

The inspiration for our cookbook was the new and emerging Polish cuisine (once an oxymoron) that had developed post-Communism. For me it was a way to explore the Askenazy culinary roots that are at the heart of North American Jewish food traditions. In our book we offer two types of mushroom soup, one traditional and the other a "boozier" version ofzupa gryzbowa. The kick comes from a big splash of Madeira or port. It is my go-to soup for fall get-togethers. Easy to make -- earthy, rich and delicious. 

Serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course.

1/2 cup Madeira (we have also used port successfully)
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you keep Kosher) 
1 oz dried wild mushrooms (porcini, morels, cepes and boletes)
4 tbs unsalted butter
3 leeks (white and light green parts), trimmed, rinsed, and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh cultivated mushrooms, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and stems trimmed
3 tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups mushroom stock (you can use the dried cube kind here, dissolved in boiling water)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup creme fraiche
Handful of chopped fresh dill

In a small saucepan, combine the Madeira (or port), 1/2 cup of the chicken (or vegetable) stock, and the dried mushrooms. Bring to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a paper towel or cheesecloth set over a bowl to remove any grit from the stock. Press any extra liquid from the mushrooms, then rinse the mushrooms well. Return to the bowl with the strained stock, and set aside.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a soup pot and cook the leeks and onion over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms glisten and sweat a little, another few minutes or so. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until mixed well. Pour in the Madeira and dried mushroom mixture, stirring constantly so the broth thickens without curdling. Gradually pour in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of chicken (vegetable) stock and the mushroom stock, continuing to stir. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat, bring to a boil, and then immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are cooked, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot, but only partially; leave some of the mushroom chunks intact. This should not be a perfect puree. Serve, adding a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of fresh dill to each bowl.

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