Shiitake Bisque

Mind you, this is not a “cream of mushroom soup,” a la Campbells, or anyone else.  This is a sophisticated, gourmet mushroom bisque, better than most soups you’ll ever get in a restaurant, certainly company-ready.  This is a vegan version of the original Hungarian Mushroom Soup, which we demoed some years ago, recipe below.

The version below takes out the cream and the chicken stock and replaces those with homemade mushroom stock (surprisingly easy to make) and silken tofu, which is available in most supermarkets.  Silken tofu is the softest and creamiest of the tofus and, when whizzed with other ingredients, thickens and adds texture to soups and smoothies (see our Purple Smoothie from Danielle’s new book).  You can replace creams in most soups with this lovely ingredient, though you will have to run it through a blender or food processor to break it down into a liquid. Don’t overdo on amounts of tofu, though, as its taste can quickly erode the flavors that you put with it. One cup of silken tofu to every quart of liquid seems about the right proportion.

And, of course, if you want the original heady, rich Hungarian Mushroom Soup – well, we can’t argue with that!

Vegan Shiitake Bisque

12-16 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms (or a combination with white mushrooms), trimmed and sliced
2 C chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 T olive oil
½ t salt
fresh-ground pepper
1 T sweet paprika
¼ C dry sherry (can substitute Marsala, or omit altogether)
2 T soy sauce
juice of one lemon (about 1T)
3-4 C mushroom broth (recipe below) or vegetable broth, or a combination
1 C silken tofu
2-3 T fresh dill, chopped, more for garnish (can substitute dried dill)
salt and pepper to taste
lemon slice for garnish

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil until it shimmers.  Add chopped onions and garlic and cook gently until onions are translucent.  Add sliced mushrooms and stir to coat with the olive oil. Turn up heat and saute until mushrooms start o show a golden color and release liquid, about 10 minutes.  Add spices and stir to combine.  Add sherry, if using, and cook rapidly until reduced and slightly syrupy. Add soy sauce, lemon juice and broth.  Continue cooking 15 minutes or so until the mushrooms are soft and the flavors have melded.  Using a soup ladle, remove two-three ladles of liquid from the soup and put in a food processor or blender.  Add the silken tofu to the liquid and blend until tofu is fully liquified. Return the blender contents to the soup pot; bring to a gentle simmer and add the dill.  Adjust for seasoning and serve with a lemon twist and dill sprig.

Quick Mushroom Broth

Stems from 12-16 oz mushrooms – shiitakes or a mixture of different kinds
3 oz dried mushrooms – shiitakes or any combination
one small onion, peeled
one clove garlic, peeled
one carrot
one celery stalk
½ t peppercorns
one bay leaf
parsley stems (optional)
4-5 cups water

Place all ingredients in large pot.  Add water to cover.  Bring to a gentle boil on medium-low heat.  Cover, simmer gently, adjusting heat as needed, for one hour.  Strain through a cheesecloth to remove impurities. Store in the refrigerator up to three weeks, in the freezer up to three months.

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