Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Porcini Mushroom Soup

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? on February 21, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Gourmet, December 2008.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I have a certain love affair with mushrooms.  I’ve experimented with a lot of different types of mushrooms, but I’ve always wondered about the dried and exotic mushrooms at the end of the counter.  I’ll be honest – they smell funny.  I know they’re supposed to be delicious, but I simply didn’t know where to start… until now.

Soup is one of those things I love to make, but seem to get tired of quickly.  Luckily, my husband eats everything I make until it is gone.  I think it is a quest for him to empty the refrigerator before I do the weekly grocery shopping.  The reason I point this out, is that I try to choose my soup recipes wisely.  It has to make me happy, but be appealing enough to my husband that he’ll finish it once I tire of it.  This recipe had it all:
  • It wasn’t creamy (creamy soups are not my husband’s favorite)
  • It has mushrooms (obviously for me)
  • It has “fancy” mushrooms (exciting for me to try)
  • It is chock full of healthy vegetables (both of us need this – especially the mushrooms Vitamin D for me)
  • It is vegetarian (we are trying to eat meat-free at least a couple times of week)

My finished product:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Just looking at this picture makes me wish I had a bowl.  It is rich, yet doesn’t rely on cream to make it that way.  Of course, I wish I had used fresh herbs (the dried just kind of float there), but I can’t justify buying a bunch that I know will go bad after I use 2 tablespoons.

Picture published with recipe:
© Gourmet
I look at the picture published by Gourmet and think it definitely looks like a meal.  The big chunks of mushroom and tomato… yum!  So I start to compare the pictures and notice a couple of obvious things.  First, I used dried herbs, so of course I don’t have the big pieces as they do, but then again, the recipe called for them to be finely chopped.  I’m sure they did it for plating purposes, but still, they shouldn’t be there.  Second, they look like they’ve got a ton more vegetables in their soup.  I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I made a slight (well HUGE) boo boo when it came to my mushrooms (read on for more details), so that is part of it, but I also don’t see the other vegetables in their soup.  That’s one of the things I like about mine.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – There’s lots of chopping, but the real mess comes with soaking the mushrooms and having to strain the soaking liquid.  Then you have to transfer soup and vegetables to a food processor and back again.

Start-to-Finish Time: A LITTLE OVER AN HOUR – You’ve got A LOT of vegetables to slice for this recipe and about 45 minutes of cook time.

Prep Work: LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE – There are a lot of vegetables that need to be “finely chopped” and if you decide to slice all 1½ pounds of mushrooms, you’ll probably not want to look at another vegetable again.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – even the porcini mushrooms are going to be readily available, so you won’t have to search for any ingredients.  You may have to buy a sieve (I did – how pathetic is that) and make sure you have a large glass measuring cup, but all the other equipment you should have on hand.  The techniques were simple and there were no surprises.

OverallYUMMY – We both enjoyed this soup.  I’ll admit, I did get tired of it, but that is because there were 8 servings.  I ate at least 3 of them with much excitement – then I was ready to move on to something new.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8

Nutritional Information
None given

Gourmet’s active time for this recipe is a little off.  For some reason, I didn’t keep track of my timing on this recipe, but I know that I probably had a good 15-30 minutes of chopping alone, and that was with buying pre-sliced mushrooms.  You definitely will get 8 servings out of the recipe, though.  You can serve bowls with crusty bread, a salad or a light sandwich and have a very full meal.

There is no nutritional information given with this recipe, but I’m not too worried about it.  The things that give me pause:
  • ½ stick of unsalted butter – this will raise the calorie and fat content, but really it is the only fat in the dish, so I didn’t worry about it.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – there tends to be significant salt in canned vegetables.  However, you will be making your own broth, so I wasn’t worried about a single element of sodium being added to the dish.  Look for organic tomatoes or no-salt tomatoes if you have any concerns.

Changes denoted by red text

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Dry/Dairy Ingredients
© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Vegetable Ingredients

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (approximately 1 cup)
6 cups tepid water plus 2 cups hot water, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
½ stick unsalted butter
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon pepper
1 can (15 ounce) diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried dill

Ingredient Notes:
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • Porcini (pronounced pore-CHEE-nee) is actually the plural of porcino.  Not that it matters, I just found it interesting when I was researching this type of mushroom.  I’ve never seen porcino mushrooms, so I wonder when the singular is used.
  • The dried mushrooms should be located either near the fresh mushrooms (usually in a little basket stuck in the middle of the counter) or with the other dried/packaged vegetables (look near the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, etc…)
  • The recipe called for ¾ ounce of dried mushrooms (about 1/3 of a pound after soaking), but I used the entire package of 1 ounce.  I was running low on my white mushrooms, so I decided anywhere I could get an extra mushroom would help.
  • If you can’t find porcini mushrooms, use Portobello.  Just be sure to buy vegetable stock since you make the stock by reconstituting the mushrooms.

Onion – I used a more “largeish” onion.  Why?  Because I like onion, that’s why!  I also didn’t worry about finely chopping it.  I liked getting a big chunk every once in a while.

Celery – to save some time, I bought the pre-cleaned/pre-cut pieces.  I used 8 of them to make up the 2 ribs.

Garlic – I used pre-minced, instead of chopping fresh, to save a little time.  I also added a little more than 3 cloves because I LOVE garlic.

White Mushrooms & Baby Bella Mushrooms - So here’s where I have to confess my big booboo.  See, I went on this crazy tear of eating mushrooms on everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  First, I kept eating the mushrooms until I realized I had less than the required 1½ pounds for the recipe.  Then, I discovered that I had eaten the kind I was supposed to be saving (white) for the soup.  What I ended up with, was a pound mixed of half white mushrooms and half baby bell mushrooms.  I am very glad that happened too, although I wish I had that extra ½ pound.

Parsley – the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh flat leaf, but I used dried to save money and time.  If you use fresh, make sure you get the flat leaf.  It has more flavor than the curly.

Dill – the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh dill.  I used dried to save money and time.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Equipment Needed
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Vegetable peeler
Plastic wrap
Medium bowl
Stock pot with lid / Heavy medium pot
Large spoon
Slotted spoon
Fine-mesh sieve
Large glass measuring cup
Food processor / Blender

Equipment Notes:
Stock Pot with Lid/Heavy Medium Pot – there is probably a reason Gourmet is no longer published: (a) they became more of a travel magazine with ridiculously hard recipes that had ingredients you had to special order from all over the globe and (b) they think this soup could fit in a medium pot!  Go large is what I’m telling you.

Large Glass Measuring Cup – make sure the one you use holds at least 2 cups liquid (but a bigger one would be even better).

Food Processor – the original recipe said use a blender, but I like my food processor.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Soaking Mushrooms
(1)  Soak porcini in 2 cups hot water in a medium bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.

I covered the soaking mushrooms to keep the water hot and give the mushrooms more opportunity to soften.

(2)  Cook onion in butter with 1 teaspoon salt in a stock pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

(3)  Add celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Strained Soaking Liquid
(4)  Transfer porcini with a slotted spoon to pot and strain soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a large glass measure.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Soaking Liquid

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Sauteed Vegetables
(5)  Add white mushrooms to pot with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Vegetables & Broth Pre-boil
(6)  Stir in tomatoes, remaining 6 cups water, and porcini-soaking liquid. Simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Porcini Mushroom Soup
Vegetable & Broth Puree
(7)  Purée 1 cup vegetables and 1 cup liquid in a food processor (use caution when blending hot liquids), then return to pot.

Use your slotted spoon to pull out the vegetables for measuring.  Use a ladle to get the broth.

(8)  Stir in parsley, dill, and salt to taste.

As I said before, this was a rich soup without using heavy cream.  THAT, my trusty readers, is a rarity.  There is something about the mushroom soaking liquid with the pureed vegetables that gives it a thickness that a regular broth doesn’t achieve.  Now, I know there is supposed to be a lot more mushrooms in it, which would definitely give it that thickness that Gourmet had, but it still tasted great.  The garlic resonates through the soup and the coarseness of the onion really added to the mushrooms and tomatoes.  What I would do differently:
  • Obviously have the right amount of mushrooms.  My husband may have to hide them from me, like I hide the sweets from him.
  • Stick with the blend of white, cremini and baby bella mushrooms.  I liked the variety and think it added additional flavor to the dish.


  1. Making this tomorrow (Friday) husband and daughter loves mushrooms. Thanks!

  2. You will LOVE it! I was a little scared of the dried mushrooms, but it was easy... and now I have a new way to make vegetable stock!