The bread disappears into the soup to give it body. Dried mushrooms enhance the flavor of the fresh mushrooms. For a nice presentation, sauté some additional sliced button mushrooms to use as a garnish with the chives.
2 teaspoons butter
1 3/4 cups chopped onion
1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce)
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms, chopped
1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 (1 1/4-ounce) slice whole wheat bread
5 1/2 cups water
1 vegetable-flavored or mushroom dry bouillon cube
2/3 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
How to Make It
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, porcini mushrooms, tarragon, thyme, and bay leaf; sauté 10 minutes or until onions are lightly browned. Add garlic, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, button mushrooms, and cremini mushrooms. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place bread in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until crumbly. Add the breadcrumbs, water, and bouillon cube. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Place about 2 1/2 cups mushroom mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining mushroom mixture, 2 1/2 cups at a time. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and half-and-half. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon chives. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups).
Wine note: In Europe, rich soups such as this creamy, earthy mushroom soup are often served with a dry amontillado Sherry. If you've never tried this classic combination, now's the time. Osborne Amontillado "Coquinero" Sherry nonvintage from Jerez, Spain ($16) is a great choice. -Karen MacNeil