By contributing writer Mary Cressler
The greatest birthday gift I ever gave my husband was a cooking class. Now this might sound selfish on my part, but hear me out. This was twelve years ago when we were living in San Francisco. The class was called stocks, soups, and sauces. Not only was it the gift that keeps on giving (lucky me!), but it also gave my husband a sense of confidence as a cook and a love for cooking that continues to this day.
When he returned from this day-long class, it almost seemed as if he learned another language in addition to cooking skills. He started spewing the difference between a roux and a béchamel and told me we needed to add crème fraîche as a refrigerator staple. He also learned how to make homemade chicken stock and couldn’t wait to make me a wild mushroom soup that evening that he learned in class. Before this day, the only soup he’d ever made for me came from a can. He was transformed. I was happy.
We’ve been making that soup regularly since that class, changing things up here and there, adding ingredients, taking some away, and changing the technique. It’s different from the soup he made me that day, but every time we make this soup it still reminds me of when he gained so much confidence in the kitchen. To this day he’s more experimental and less afraid to not follow a recipe than I am! I attribute it all to that class.
- 1 ounce dried chanterelle (or porcini) mushrooms
- ¾ cup sherry
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large leek, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms (a mix of portobello and cremini work well), cleaned and sliced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
- ½ cup crème fraîche
- Place the dried chanterelle mushrooms in a small bowl with the sherry, and allow the mushrooms to soak for about 1 hour (this re-hydrates the mushrooms). Drain the mushrooms through a fine strainer, and reserve the sherry for later. Leave the mushrooms whole or chop into smaller pieces.
- Melt butter in a large soup pot set to medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.
- Add the fresh mushrooms and let them cook for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and begin to brown.
- Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes while stirring.
- Add the reserved sherry and thyme and stir. Let the sherry cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the crème fraîche in a small bowl, separate from the soup pot. Ladle about 1 cup of the hot soup into the crème fraîche, whisk together until combined and creamy, then pour back into the large soup pot. This helps to temper the crème fraîche so that it doesn’t curdle in the soup. Mix together, and serve.
An important thing to note about this soup is that it’s not creamy like a chowder, bisque, or a squash based soup. It does have a slight creamy texture from the crème fraîche, but just enough to make it a little indulgent without being too thick or heavy.
While the mushrooms provide a meaty and earthy bite that you may think would pair best with a red wine, I caution you away from reds with this soup because they clash with the flavors of the stock. I tried this soup with a Pinot Noir (a grape variety known for pairing well with mushrooms), and it was terrible with this particular soup. Stick with white wines.
Like I mentioned, it’s more stock heavy than cream based. Sherry would be a natural pair since there’s Sherry in the actual soup, but my favorite selections for this soup are acidic white wines, since they work to cut through the mild creaminess of the soup. Albariño works well, as does Sauvignon Blanc, but I prefer Italian Pinot Grigio and light to no oaked Chardonnays.
2012 Louis Jadot Macon-Villages, Chardonnay (Burgundy, France) $15
There are nice sweet green apple and citrus aromas on this unoaked Chardonnay. It is crisp and fresh on the palate with clean fruit and some mineral expressions on the finish. The crispness of the wine works well with the soup, and the richness of the dish brings out the minerality in the wine. This is probably my favorite pairing of the two.
2013 ‘Riff’ Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (delle Venezie IGT, Italy) $10
This wine is fresh and zesty with lots of lime and lemon aromas and a little peach. It is crisp on the palate with a little bit of an oily/minerally finish. It’s not a super complex wine but does represent a really great value for the price. It worked well to brighten up the dish and refresh my palate. Interestingly, the wine became a bit savory/salty when paired with the soup, which I really liked.
Have you paired wines with mushrooms soup? What are your favorite pairings?
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Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier, a Wine Location Specialist, and the proprietor of Vindulge: Wine Education & Consulting. She conducts wine classes and events and offers consulting for individuals, restaurants, and event planners.
She writes about wine, food, and travel on her blog Vindulge. Mary resides in Connecticut with her husband, twin boys, and two Chihuahuas.