Forget everything you know about mushroom soup and slip a spoon into chanterelle magic.
This past fall when Costco (which we can now have delivered to our home in the Alaska bush) offered fresh, wild-picked chanterelle mushrooms, I couldn’t resist ordering a few pounds. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them other than savor them with a little olive oil, garlic and mozzarella on one of Barbra’s homemade thin pizza crusts, or perhaps present them in an egg-white omelette, but I was confident I’d find something. An internet search brought up Escoffier’s Chanterelle Soup. Reading through the recipe, I began mentally picking out the bottle of Chardonnay I’d pull from the rack to serve with it.
While I stayed fairly true to Auguste Escoffier’s Veloute Agnes Sorel – based on the various English versions of the recipe I scanned through – I made a few adjustments, particularly the second time around. We don’t stock brandy, but we have bourbon on hand; that was an easy swap and it worked well. The chicken broth the original recipe calls for is fine… but we felt that lobster stock, made with Better than Bouillon’s Lobster Base, worked exceptionally well. And toward the end of cooking, a taste suggested that not only serving a Chard with this soup would make for an excellent pairing, but that a quarter cup or so to finish the soup might be warranted as well. In fact, we were amazed at the way in which a little Chardonnay brought this soup together, making the already subtle, silky transitions in the flavors of cream, butter, bourbon, saffron and chanterelles even smoother.
This is not a difficult recipe, but it does have distinct preparation steps. A velouté (vәl-ü-tā) must be created – a mixture of butter, flour and broth. And in the creation of a liaison of egg yolks and cream lies much of the secret of this soup’s silky feel.
Oh, and don’t skimp on the saffron.
Ingredients (Serves 4+)
For the Velouté
- 6 cups lobster stock (use Better than Bouillon Lobster Base)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
For the Soup
- 1 pound of chanterelle mushrooms, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup shallots, chopped fine
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 oz bourbon
- saffron – approximately 2 full pinches
- 1/4 cup or slightly more of Chardonnay
- salt to taste/if necessary
- a few especially nice chanterelles set aside as a garnish for each bowl
- Heat the stock, but try to keep the temperature just below simmering.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pot or pan (a large sauteuse pan works well for this) over medium-low heat, melt the butter until it begins to froth. Whisk in the flour. Continue whisking until mixture is cooked through and smooth, but do not allow to brown. This is called a roux.
- Whisk the broth into the roux and bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently. Cook this down by about a fourth or slightly more. Don’t let it boil. A very gentle simmer will reduce the velouté in about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sweat the chopped mushrooms and shallots with a little salt over medium-low heat in a dry pan. Stir occasionally and cook till the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have given up moisture and have browned. When they’re ready, add a tablespoon of butter and stir together.
- Crumble the saffron into the bourbon. This can be done earlier. The idea is to allow the saffron to begin releasing its flavor and color.
- Add the bourbon and saffron mixture to the mushroom mixture. Turn the heat up and stir until most of the bourbon has evaporated.
- Purée the mushroom mixture in a food processor or with a stick blender.
- When the velouté has cooked down by 1/4 or slightly less of its original volume, add the mushroom purée and stir well. Try to keep the temperature just below simmering or at a very low simmer. When the mushroom mixture is thoroughly incorporated, turn the heat to low to keep the soup hot without simmering.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. This is a liaison. The intention here is to create a binding agent that will thicken the soup.
- Into the egg yolk and cream mixture, whisk in about 1/4 cup of soup at a time. By introducing the hot soup a little at a time while whisking, you will ensure that the liaison remains smooth and doesn’t break up. Once you’ve whisked in a total of about two cups of soup, you can now stir all of the liaison into the soup. Again, keep the soup hot, but at or below a very low simmer. Do not let it boil.
- Add 1/4 cup of Chardonnay. Give the soup a taste. Add a little more wine or salt, if necessary.
- To serve, garnish each bowl with a chanterelle and perhaps a drizzle of melted butter. Enjoy with a crusty piece of bread and a favorite Chardonnay.