A Nautical Asian Cream of Mushroom Soup

Rummaging around H-mart (my local Asian market) the other day, I happened upon a nice price on a big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms. As mushrooms go these are practically indestructible and have a strong flavor. They are often considered medicinal in East Asia. I have been hungering for a nice rich bowl of mushroom soup. So, let’s put these guys in a hot liquid to rehydrate them and cook them in some fish stock for a nautical cream of mushroom soup.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

 

  • 4 ounces dried shiitaki mushrooms
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 quarts fish stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley (optional)
  • 2 cups light cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper

 

Combine mushrooms and hot water in a large, heatproof bowl. Let stand 1 hour. With your fingers, work mushrooms to release any grit. Let stand until very pliable, about 1 hour longer. Then, lift the mushrooms from the liquid and cut them into large pieces and set aside. Reserve the bowl of soaking liquid.
 

Dice the two large onions. In a 5- to 6-quart pot, sauté the onions in a little olive oil. When they are translucent add the stock and chopped mushrooms. Pour the reserved soaking liquid into pot, taking care not to disturb grit in bowl. Make sure that stays behind. Then, rinse and drain barley and add to pot, if you’re using it. I tend to like the barley in the soup to give it a bit more body. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender to the bite, about 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, mix the cream, or half and half, with the flour and temper by whisking in a little hot soup. Pour contents of bowl into hot soup, whisking constantly on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. This is where the thickening of the soup occurs. Adjust seasonings and heal t through.

Serve this up in nice deep bowls and serve with crusty bread, like a baguette.

Shiitake-Mushroom-Soup-1024x575

Comfort Soup – Crab Corn Chowder with … Bacon!

I know, I hear you; I’m bringing back the bacon. As winter sets in, although it’s been pretty darn mild around here lately, and that’s not helping the ‘comfort food’ theme we have going on here, thick hearty soups are often on the stove. Here on the Island, with sales on crab meat going on, its time for some crab – corn chowder with a bit of… you asked for it… bacon!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 rashers bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups diced red potato
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
  • Chopped fresh chives

Cook the bacon over medium heat, remember I only use the Western Beef  (add shameless sponsorship plug here lol) thick cut rashers. Add onions; sauté for a minute or so, until tender. Add corn, potatoes, milk, Worcestershire, and thyme; bring this to a boil.

Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender.

Combine cornstarch and evaporated milk in a small bowl; stir with a whisk to create slurry.

Add cornstarch slurry to soup to thicken it up; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and crab; remove thyme sprig. Ladle into soup bowls; sprinkle with chives.

I enjoy serving this with toasted rye bread and butter.