Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup with Cheesy-Garlic Croutons

Cream of Mushroom SoupThe Ghost Of Christmas Past

Have you ever reflected back on things you’ve done in the past and cringed? I have. Unfortunately I have done that often, and it usually involved me and my potential for food snobbery.

The first time I hosted Christmas Eve I went a little overboard. I was on a mission, and out to prove that I was the Queen of Christmas. This would be no run of the mill jello salad Christmas Eve, baby! There would be smoked salmon, ham, various chutneys and mustards, deviled eggs, rolls, fresh baked cookies and the piece de resistance, a Bouche de Noel. (‘Cause doesn’t everyone have one of those?)

In reality I was just young and stupid. I have since learned that less is more when it comes to making a feast for 14 after working at the store all day. However one of the items I made that year was a Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup that was really, really good. (I served it in little demi tasse cups as soup shots. Go ahead. Roll your eyes.)

This soup is definitely not for everyday. It is a special occasion soup. It is decadent, and has enough heavy cream and butter in it to make having your cardiologist on speed dial a good idea. It is also a nice and elegant addition to your holiday dinner no matter what you serve it in. 

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup with Cheesy-Garlic Croutons
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001
8 servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and sliced
6 ounces oyster mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and sliced
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup brandy
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 (8-inch long) thin baguette French bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 cloves peeled, crushed garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until soft (about 4 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, the mushrooms give off their liquid and start to brown (about 7 minutes). Add the brandy, bring to a boil and cook until glazed, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally (for about 15 minutes).

Remove from the heat and puree. I like to use an immersion blender, but you can also do it in batches in a food processor. (Be careful with the hot liquid!) Add the cream, return to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and adjust seasoning, to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rub both sides of the French bread slices with the crushed garlic and place on a baking sheet. Brush 1 side with the olive oil using a pastry brush. Top with a fine sprinkling of the cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with 2 croutons.

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