You know those people in your life that are so special and generous that when they ask you for something you just say yes? One in my tribe is the amazing and talented Kyle Irwin. When we moved, he not only helped pull together (beautifully) the interiors in our home, but also actually dug in and unpacked a load of boxes— now, that’s a friend.
So when Kyle asked me to prepare the food for a hundred guests celebrating Jeffrey Alan Marks and his new book, The Meaning of Home the answer was a swift yes. From there, I took a deep breath, grabbed my trusty notebook and began to formulate a plan. Since I’m not a professional caterer, but an avid home cook, the fit was a nice one with Marks’ new book. I love a good theme!
Much of last week was spent in a flurry of recipe testing, prep, honing the menu and figuring out what could be prepared in advance and simply assembled onsite. We wanted everything to be one small bite, have a few vegan options, and for it all to be an elegantly casual spin on comfort home cooking (say that five times fast).
This mushroom soup shared here was the runaway hit of the night, so for those that have asked for the recipe- here it is! This elegant soup is the perfect way to start a chilly fall (or almost winter) night— easy to make, a beautiful Flemish grey color and a delicious, earthy taste.
I love that you can make it a day in advance. Then, simply heat it up before sitting down to the table, garnishing with some fresh thyme.
It was a wonderful night, the book is truly beautiful, Jeffery Alan Marks is so talented and fun, Kyle still makes me laugh like no other and the food came together in such a way that this home cook was proud to represent what can come out of a home kitchen.
Wild Mushroom Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. shitake mushrooms, stem removed and sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup Marsala wine
1 quart hot water
Splash of lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon crème fraiche or sour cream
Garnish with fresh thyme leaves
In a medium sized stockpot on medium-high heat add the butter and olive oil. When the butter begins to foam, add the celery and shallots and sauté for about three minutes. Next, add the garlic and as that perfumes your kitchen go ahead and add the mushrooms and bay leaves.
Continue to cook on medium-high heat stirring to move the mushrooms around the pan. Once the mushrooms release their liquid – about 5-8 minutes, add the salt and pepper. Continue to cook until they turn slightly golden in color – about another 5 minutes.
Add the Marsala wine and cook another 3 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve the porcini mushroom cube in 4 cups of hot water and then pour it in the pot. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Before you blend be sure to remove the bay leaves! Using a hand blender, regular blender or even better a Vitamix, blend until desired consistency. (At this point you can store the soup in the fridge for 1-2 days in a container with a lid.)
Return the soup back into the stockpot on the stove over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, add a splash of fresh lemon juice – a little goes a long way. And salt and pepper if needed. Now, add a heaping tablespoon of crème fraiche (or sour cream) to the pot using an immersion blender or whisk to fully incorporate into the soup, the fat from the dairy it will make it frothy. Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh thyme leaves.