Portobello Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Soup

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This thick, satisfying, autumn-flavoured soup tastes just like a bowl of juicy roasted Portobello mushrooms.  Actually, that’s exactly what it is.  How can you say no?

Years ago, after my undergrad, I had a part-time job in a psychology lab.  It wasn’t enough to pay the bills, so I decided to take a few shifts a week at a newly-opened takeout soup place in Halifax.  Suffice it to say, I only made it through two shifts.  During my brief time however, I tasted heaven in the form of a pureed Portobello mushroom soup.  The interesting thing was that back then, I hated mushrooms.  I don’t know how I even ended up trying it out, but that soup was so delicious that it stayed in my mind for years afterward.  I finally decided this week to try my hand at making a similar one.  Too much time has passed for me to say if this soup is really all that close to the one from years ago, but it’s so yummy that it doesn’t really matter.

Yield: A lot of soup… about 8 servings.

  • 10 large Portobello mushrooms, stems separated and caps cut into quarters
  • Olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, diced
  • Canola oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium white potatoes, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 400.  Toss the cut mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread in a single layer onto two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until soft and juicy.  Remove when done and put aside.

While the mushrooms are roasting, heat a frying pan over low-medium heat (about 4), and add some canola oil and the onions.  The key to caramelizing them nicely is cooking them at this low-ish heat for a while, about 30-40 minutes.  Stir them every few minutes.

When the onions are very soft and have begun to turn golden, add the celery and garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the onions look perfectly golden brown and gooey.  Add the broth, potatoes, and bay leaves and turn heat to high.  When the soup boils, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very soft.  Carefully remove bay leaves.

Now stir in the mushrooms, milk, red wine, and salt (about ¾ teaspoon, or to taste).  This should cool the soup down sufficiently to allow you to safely puree it, using an immersion blender on the stovetop.  (Be sure to check that it’s not hot before you puree though.)  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you’ll probably have to do it in a few batches in a food processor.

Puree to a nice smooth consistency, then adjust seasoning as desired.  Gently heat the soup back up on the stovetop at medium heat, and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parsley to serve.

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