As I was experimenting and beginning to compose this recipe, all of the words I came up with were preceded by "very." This soup is very vegan, very mushroom-y, very low fat, very creamy, very tasty...
In addition to being an avid gardener, my husband absolutely adores foraging for mushrooms and greatly looks forward to the first rains of the year, as they inevitably herald the start of chanterelle season. In my dish tonight, I used 100% chanterelles since we have so many. Really, any combination of flavorful mushrooms would work in their stead. And, a splash of white wine or sherry just before you add the veg broth would be a welcome addition!
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup
about two quarts
olive oil, as needed
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded
6 cups roughly chopped mixed mushrooms (plus 2 c set aside for garnish)
3 cups cooked soft white beans, drained (great northern, cannellini, navy, etc)
vegetable broth, as needed
salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, heat a tablespoon of oil or so over a medium flame. Add in the onions and garlic, and then turn the heat up to high. Saute for a few moments until they are just starting to brown, and add the mushrooms. Give them a good stir, and then let them sear on the hot pan, monitoring just enough so that the onions and garlic don't burn. Every 90 seconds or so, mix the mushrooms to keep the bits from burning. Stir in the thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until all of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Deglaze the pan with about two cups of vegetable broth, add the white beans, and transfer the mixture to a blender. Work in batches if you need to, and do proceed with caution, so that you don't cause the lid to blow off the blender, thus burning your self and dirtying the kitchen... Spin until the mixture is completely smooth, adding broth as needed to keep everything moving.
In a clean pot, heat a bit more oil, and repeat the steps for searing the mushrooms that you set aside for garnish. After the mushrooms are seared, add the puree back in, and heat through. Season to taste, and serve with a drizzle of fabulous olive oil, a sprig of thyme, and a few flecks of fleur de sel.
Jasmine Biernacki is the chef/owner of Boutique Artisan Catering in Gig Harbor. For more information, please visit http://www.chef-jasmine.com/