Rosa Vilaseca, the accomplished Catalan country cook who gave me the recipe for Rosa’s Roast Chicken and Wild Mushroom Casserole with Red Wine, contributed this equally hearty mushroom soup. In the rustic tradition followed pretty much all over Spain, the soup is thickened with bread (just like Andalusian gazpacho). Both the picada of crushed garlic and almonds and the use of garlic shoots are characteristic
of Catalan cooking. Look for garlic shoots at farmers’ markets or Chinese supermarkets. If you don’t find them, you can substitute julienned scallions (use the white and some of the green parts) or julienned leeks, plus three cloves of minced garlic (in addition to the garlic that’s in the picada). Cream is not part of Rosa’s recipe and has little use in the Catalan kitchen, but add it if you’d like to lighten the color of the soup. Because the soup is so rich and bosky tasting, I like to pass small portions of it before dinner in small, pretty glasses.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth, or more if needed
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic shoots, trimmed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons ( 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, or more if needed, cut into small pieces
- 12 ounces assorted delicate fresh mushrooms (chanterelles, oysters, morels, and/or stemmed shiitakes), wiped clean and chopped
- 1 large ripe tomato, cut in half and grated on a box grater, skin discarded
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 slices ( 1/2 inch thick) day-old country bread from a medium-size round loaf, crusts removed
- 0.33 cup heavy cream (optional)
- 14 blanched almonds, toasted and chopped
- 3 medium-size garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Minced fresh chives, for garnish
- Place 1 cup of the chicken stock in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Add the porcini and soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain the porcini in a small sieve lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, reserving the soaking liquid. Finely chop the porcini.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic shoots, and the chopped porcini and cook until the onion is soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the butter and the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms cook down and release their liquid, about 5 minutes, adding a little more butter if the pot looks dry. Add the tomato and cook until thickened and reduced, 5 to 7 minutes more. Stir in the remaining 5 cups chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, occasionally skimming the fat off the top. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat, add the bread to the soup, and let it soak for 10 minutes.Working in batches, coarsely puree the soup in a blender and return it to the pot. If the soup seems too thick, add a little more stock. Stir in the cream, if using.
- Place the almonds, garlic, and parsley in a mini food processor and pulse until ground. Rinse out the processor bowl with a little of the soup, then stir the contents into the soup pot. Let the soup come to a simmer over low heat and cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with chives sprinkled on top.