Porcini Mushroom Soup tastes rich and luscious with Autumn flavors. Easy to make, use thawed frozen porcini chunks or fresh porcini. Or mix a variety of fresh mushrooms with a handful of dried porcini slices. Porcini range in taste from mild to strong, so if they are assertive, blend in sliced fresh shiitake or other mushrooms. When adding broth, it is better to use a thin-tasting broth. If using canned or strongly-flavored broth, dilute it with water because it can mask the porcini flavor.
Ladled over grilled bread or toast, Porcini Mushroom Soup becomes thick, like stew. Make sure there is enough liquid in the soup because the bread absorbs the liquid and expands. It is meaty, filling, and satisfying, perfect served as a main dish. For a vegetarian version, simply omit the prosciutto crudo and use vegetable broth.
4 servings. Makes 8 to 10 cups (1.9 to 2.36 liters) depending on thickness of soup. Cooking time is 35 to 40 minutes.
3 tablespoons (44 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 paper-thin prosciutto crudo slices (1 ounce or 28 g) finely chopped, optional
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
10 ounces (283 g) fresh shiitake or mixed mushrooms, cleaned (6 cups sliced volume)
1 pound (454 g) frozen porcini chunks, or 8 ounces (227 g) whole fresh porcini, or 2 ounces (57 g) dried porcini slices
Salt to taste to extract juices
4 cups (946 ml) chicken, beef, or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1 to 2 cups (237 to 473 ml) water or as needed
2 fresh marjoram sprigs or generous pinch dried
2 fresh thyme sprigs or generous pinch dried
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) ripe red tomatoes, skinned, seeded, chopped (3 cups chopped volume or 6 medium-size tomatoes)
Dry Marsala, Madeira, or Amontillado sherry to taste, optional
Thinly sliced stale multi-grain bread, grilled or toasted (4 ounces or 113 g)
Split garlic clove
Grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Montasio, or Caciotta di Pecorino cheese sprinkled on top of soup
Finely chopped fresh parsley sprinkled on top of soup
1. Preparation: Thaw frozen porcini chunks in a colander placed on top of a bowl, saving the precious porcini liquid for the soup. Or soak dried porcini slices in cool water for 20 minutes until softened. Trim where needed and scrape off any bits of dirt or woodlands since they are wild mushrooms. Filter the liquid by pouring it through a paper coffee filter or paper towel, or just use the clear part of the liquid, omitting any bits that fall to the bottom of the liquid.
2. Making the Soup: In a deep saucepan over low heat, warm the oil. Saute the sliced onion until almost translucent, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. Add the prosciutto crudo and saute until fragrant, for 1 minute, do not brown.
Increase the heat to medium. Add the garlic and fresh shiitake or mixed mushrooms and saute until hot to the touch, about 4 minutes. Add the porcini along with their liquid, lightly season to taste with salt, and stir. Partially cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour in the broth and half the water. Stir. Immerse the herbs in the liquid. Partially cover and simmer for 10 minutes. If the soup looks too thick, dilute with the remaining water because the bread slices absorb much liquid. Add the tomatoes, stir, and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste. Season with salt if needed.
3. Optional: To accent the soup with dry Marsala, Madeira, or Amontillado sherry to taste, pour in a few tablespoons during the final 5 minutes of simmering the soup so the alcohol evaporates. Taste and add more if needed.
4. Garnishes: Grill or toast the stale bread slices. Lightly rub with the cut side of a garlic clove while the bread is very warm. Place the slices in the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle the hot soup over, allowing a minute for the bread to absorb the soup’s liquid and expand. Sprinkle cheese on top, then parsley. Enjoy the goodness.
Purchase Frozen Porcini in Italian Specialty Food Stores or from Trader Joe's: https://www.traderjoes.com