Yesterday’s rainy weather inspired me to make a pot of soup to warm up. My mom has been making my Aunt Marty’s French Mushroom Soup for as long as I can remember. Aunt Marty and her branch of the family have lived on communes over the decades, including the Hutterite variety, so it’s possible that this is a Hutterite soup. Hutterites make fruit and grape wines, so I imagine they must cook with it as well. This soup is quite similar to a French onion soup, except that it centers around mushrooms instead of onions. Since I am a vegetarian, I have substituted vegetable broth for the other, and I like to make the vegetable broth from scratch when I have time, as I did today. Yes, it’s indeed possible to make rich, dark, French-style soups totally vegetarian. How could a soup made from white wine, meltingly-soft onions, mushrooms, parmesan, and herbs not be delicious?
I have improved on my aunt’s recipe by adding fresh herbs from my garden, as well as increasing the amount of white wine and garlic. Aunt Marty’s recipe calls for white button mushrooms. That’s what I used today, but I often substitute crimini mushroom instead, or use half-and-half. It’s really quite easy to pull together, as long as you have an hour for simmering.
FRENCH MUSHROOM SOUP
2 lbs. (4 blue boxes) fresh mushrooms (button or crimini, or a combination)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups vegetable broth (here is my recipe, but you can use broth from the store)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
croutons are optional for garnish
Slice the mushrooms thinly. Cut the onion in half, then slice it thinly. Mince the garlic.
Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
During this time, chop the parsley and remove the thyme leaves from the stems. When the mushrooms are tender, add the herbs and tomato paste. Simmer about 1 minute. Add the white wine, broth, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 1 hour, then serve with more parmesan as garnish, plus croutons if you like.