There is something majestic about portabella mushrooms. Monochromatic and earthy, versatile and rich, the portabella lends itself to hearty dishes and simple fare. These mushrooms can grow as large as an adult’s hand, but I find them to somehow be tender and graceful, needing to be handled carefully and delicately.
Adam mentioned portabella mushroom soup and I spent the better part of a day or two putting the recipe together in my head. I wanted it to be simple, yet filling. Brothy, yet substantial enough to be a meal. Stock Options beef broth was the natural choice. Add in a few caramelized shallots, fresh bacon and splash or two of cognac, and you’ll have a cozy meal for a cold, wet winters day.
One word of warning, there is a lot of butter in this soup. You’re welcome to cut back a tablespoon here and there, but you’ll take away from the richness the butter lends.
Besides, there is no such thing as too much butter, right?
I can’t take full credit for this recipe as the basic guideline was inspired from a recipe found on Epicurious.
What you’ll need:
8+ tablespoons butter
4 shallots, thinly sliced
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 pounds portabella mushrooms, stemmed and cut crosswise in 1/4 inch thick strips
4 strips fresh bacon cut crosswise into 1/4-inch chunks.
3 tablespoons Cognac
1-quart beef broth
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large heavy pot over medium-medium high heat. Add shallot and thyme and sauté until shallots begin to soften. About 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize. About another 5-10 minutes.
Place shallots in a bowl and set aside.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the same pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until they soften. About 10 minutes. Add Cognac and stir for a few seconds. Stir in shallots and broth, water and wine.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.
In a separate pan, warm last tablespoon of butter over medium heat and place chunks of bacon in pan. Sauté until cooked and toss in the soup for the last 10-15 minutes of simmering.
Discard thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a rustic Cote-du-Rhone and a chunk or two of crusty peasant bread.