This creamy mushroom soup adds smoky touches via a choice of two toppings, to appeal to bacon-lovers and those who do not eat meat. You can opt for either a spoonful of Smoky Crumble, which has bacon and smoked almonds in the mix, or a Smoked Paprika Oil that almost tasted like bacon, for the vegans in your crowd. For large gatherings, serve this soup in tea cups, so a little goes a long way. The smoky tones will add to the look of your buffet.
Have you ever foraged for mushrooms? My family has a house in upstate New York in a Slovak community which my father established in the ’70s. Picking mushrooms is practically a sport with this group, and competition is fierce. Trespassing, secret locales, and showing off the latest finds all happen during the month of September. After the hunt, my father would preserve his mushroom bounty in two ways. He would slice the mushrooms and leave them out in the sun to dry, or he would freeze them to have on hand to add to stews, soups—or his specialty, a brisket—throughout the winter. Learn about the mushrooms in your area, you’ll find that foraging is a blast.
If you like the taste of smoke in your foods, see more recipes in our Smoky Party theme.
MAKES 6 FULL SERVINGS OR 12 TEA CUP SERVINGS
COOK THE MUSHROOMS
3 TB butter
1 onion, diced
2 LB mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 sprigs thyme, minced
1 TB smoked salt
1 CUP white wine
In a nice big skillet, cook over medium heat 10 min. Add mushrooms and spices, cook 5 min. Add wine, cook another 5 min.
MAKE IT SOUP
4 CUPS chicken stock
In a large pot, add the cooked mixture to chicken stock. Cook at low temp covered 30 min.
MAKE IT CREAMY
1 CUP half + half
s + p
Remove bay leaf. In batches, blend until smooth. Stir in half and half, adjust s + p.
A super versatile topping for adding a smoky slant to many dishes. In addition to using it as a topping for the creamy mushroom soup, try it on cheese board, spread some goat cheese onto figs or dried dragon fruit, then dip or sprinkle on the crumble. Other uses: throw into salads, especially spinach or arugula, and for those who love savory in their desserts, add a spoon to vanilla ice cream.
MAKES ROUGHLY 3/4 cup
COOK THE BACON
4 strips of bacon
Quick way: In microwave, cook bacon between paper towels till very crisp (ovens vary, so start with about 20 sec per slice, then add time till crisp). The paper towels soak up all the oil, leaving perfectly straight strips. If cooking in a pan, be sure to cook thoroughly and blot on paper towels to remove moisture.
GET OUT THE FOOD PROCESSOR
1/2 CUP smoked almonds
2 sprigs oregano, strip leaves from stem
1 tsp smoked salt
Process ingredients in pulses till you get uniform tiny bits. Don’t over process, the nuts will start to turn into nut butter.