Sunday, 6 March 2016

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup With Crispy Shiitake Chips.

Slightly adapted from:
- The Food Lab: Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup With Crispy Shiitake Chips | Serious Eats
15 gram dried porcini or morel mushrooms (optional)
1 Litre Hearty Vegan Stock or store-bought vegetable broth
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 small onions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced (about 1 tablespoon)
400 gram white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
300 gram shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon miso paste
1 cup dry sherry or white wine
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 slices vegan white sandwich bread, crusts removed, bread torn into pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

Here's how it's done!
Start by sweating out your aromatics.
In this case, I'm using a blend of onions, leeks, and garlic, though shallots would work fine as well.
The goal is to soften them as much as possible without browning them, which can give them a distracting sweetness.
Next, add the mushrooms.
In this case I'm using 400 gram of sliced button mushrooms along with 200-300 gram of shiitake, though any combination of fresh mushrooms will work.
In the meantime, I set aside a 20 gram of dried porcini mushrooms to soak in a Hearty Vegan Stock.
The mushrooms cook down until their liquid has evaporated and they begin to sizzle.
Next up: a dash of flour, to help thicken up the broth and get the emulsion going.
In goes the sherry/marsala/white wine.
As it reduces, it adds a layer of complexity, as well as some acidity to brighten up the finished bowl.
Once wine is reduced, I add a couple of my secret vegan weapons: soy sauce and miso paste.
Both are extremely high in glutamates, which lend a savory backbone to the dish.
Now I add the soaked porcini along with the vegetable stock, a few sprigs of thyme, and a couple of bay leaves, letting the whole thing simmer for about half an hour to let flavors develop and the liquid slightly reduce.

In goes the bread to soak (optional).
It doesn't take long.
And be wary: not all bread from the supermarket is vegan-friendly.
Many shelf-stable sandwich breads contain milk solids or whey.
Check your labels!

While the soup is simmering, time to make your garnish of crispy shiitake chips (optional).
You cook thinly-sliced mushrooms over very low heat in oil until they get nice and crisp around the edges and absorb some of that fat.
I hate to make the comparison, but they're almost bacon-like in the way they crunch and release little bits of fat into your mouth as you eat them. (This makes me think of a new project: smoked shiitake chips.)
As soon as they get nice and brown, I drain them on paper towels and season immediately with salt.

When your soup has simmered away, it's time to blend. (optional). (I do not puree the soup!)
Just like making a mayonnaise, you want to emulsify your soup slowly so that your oil gets fully incorporated.
Put the soup in the blender, bring it up to high speed gradually, then pour in a few more tablespoons of oil in a thin, steady stream.
You should see the soup thicken up nicely as you do it.

Season it with salt and pepper.

For the ultimate in luxury, press it through a chinois or fine mesh strainer to get it velvety smooth (optional).
Here's a fun game: garnish the soup with those crispy mushrooms, some sliced scallions, and a drizzle of olive oil and serve it up to any non-vegan you know, and see if they make any comments other than how intensely mushroomy it is, how perfectly creamy it tastes, or just plain how darn delicious it tastes.
I will wear this soup as a hat and post it in a public forum if they do!

Now then...Practice makes perfect!
1.If using dried mushrooms, place in a large bowl and add vegetable stock.
Set aside.
2.Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until shimmering.
Add leeks, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.
Add button mushrooms and 300 gram of shiitake mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until excess liquid evaporates and mushrooms start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
3.Add flour and stir to incorporate.
Cook for 30 seconds.
Add sherry or white wine and cook, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pan, until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute.
Add soy sauce and miso and stir to incorporate.
Add broth and soaked mushrooms.
Add bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
Bring soup to a simmer and adjust heat to maintain a bare bubble.
Let simmer for 30 minutes.

4.Meanwhile, make the shiitake chips (optional).
Combine remaining sliced shiitake mushrooms with the vegetable oil in a medium non-stick skillet.
Heat over medium-low heat and cook, flipping mushrooms and stirring frequently, until dehydrated and well-browned.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spatula and season immediately with salt.
Let cool.
5.Add torn bread slices to sopu and soak for 30 seconds (optional).
Discard bay leaves and thyme and transfer soup to a blender (optional).
Close blender and blend, starting on low speed and slowly getting faster.
Once blender is at full speed, slowly drizzle in remaining olive oil.
Continue blending until completely smooth.
Rinse out pot and pour soup back into it through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6.Serve soup topped with crispy shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

The following question: mushroom barley soup, saute mushrooms first?
- mushroom barley soup, saute mushrooms first? | Serious Eats

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