Did you know there are no coincidences?
This is something I have always known but was thoughtfully reminded of this truth when I read The Celestine Prophecy years ago. An eye-opening book about spiritual awareness by James Redfield, it is one of my most treasured books. It is filled with many life-changing messages–the primary one being there are no coincidences.
“Cool” fall weather has finally arrived in south Texas–though it won’t last long. David and I agreed that soup was needed. It would warm us up and also give us a break since we ate quite well last week visiting several restaurants and culminating with a magical dinner of Asian food at the home of two incredible chefs.
Considering that my kitchen windowsill is filled with fall tomatoes, we contemplated tomato soup, but then concurred that mushroom soup sounded even better. Earthy, fall flavors would help to welcome the brisk weather.
I have a fabulous recipe for mushroom-barley soup, though we prefer to do without the barley. So the search began. I quickly landed on a Smitten Kitchen recipe from The Balthazar Cookbook, a restaurant in New York and one of our favorite haunts in SoHo. Filled with the coolest people in the city eating the best French bistro food, this is always a place we can slip into. The “see and be seen” scene goes without saying.
There are No Coincidences
That the recipe calls for dried mushrooms and my friend, Sandy, recently bestowed me with two ounces of dried wild morels from Oregon, the deal was sealed. Last week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution to encourage citizens to eat vegetarian once a week. The Meatless Monday campaign is gaining ground and making vegetarian meals more common and I love that idea!
Couple all of these realities with the fact that we have been enjoying talking about our common experiences, tastes and extreme culinary demands with our new chef friend who lived in Manhattan and cooked at Balthazar and–you guessed it–there are no coincidences, but, as Deepak Chopra believes, rather signals from the universe that guides us toward our true destiny.
Mushroom soup it is.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
From start to finish, making the soup took about an hour. The rich mushroom flavor was exquisite and we're ready for lunch tomorrow when the soup will be even better!
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms porcini, morels or shitakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 sprigs of rosemary thyme or a combination of the two
- 4 sprigs sage
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 pound button mushrooms cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or your choice of non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons butter or plant-based butter unsalted
- Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper for serving
- Italian parsley chopped, for garnish
Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water for 20-30 minutes, until plump and the water is brown and smells like an earthy mushroom broth.
Remove the mushrooms. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove any grit and reserve. Add the mushrooms back into the bowl with the liquid and set aside until needed.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Bundle the herbs together using kitchen twine and, when the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on each side to infuse the oil. Add the onion, garlic, salt and white pepper and cook for 8 minutes or so, until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.
While the onions are cooking, slice the mushrooms. Turn the flame to high and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes. The mushrooms will release their liquid (which will evaporate with the heat) and deflate significantly. Stir occasionally. Once the mushrooms have wilted, add the stock, water, reconstituted mushrooms and the soaking liquid. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the herbs and add the cream and butter. Stir well so the butter melts into the soup. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Alternatively, you could puree the soup in the blender until smooth.
Keep the soup on very low heat until ready to serve. Ladle generously into bowls, sprinkle with a bit of Maldon salt, top with a few grinds of fresh black pepper, a bit of chopped parsley for color and dig in. Refrigerate any leftover as it will be even better the next day.