Chilled Mushroom Soup with Spiced Crab

Any edible mushrooms I have ever tasted make a soup far greater than the effort it takes to make it. I would probably not tell you to make Caesar’s Amanita mushrooms into a soup, but if I lived outside Florence all one winter I would, and garnish it with one of those sausages made out of a cock’s head and neck. Here we won’t. Another garnish that would tempt me is black trumpet mushrooms that I would sweat in olive oil and garlic and then mix with artichoke mascarpone (a puree of artichoke leaves, sieved and mixed into mascarpone with some chopped Italian parsley leaves).

I have made this soup as a jellied consommé and piled pickled crayfish tails on top. And I have served it hot, mixed with parsnip puree, with a little corn pudding soufflé in the center, topped with ancho chili and basil creams.

But I love it cold with curried crabmeat or prawns.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound white button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small leek, trimmed of root and end of greens, chopped, washed
  • ½ cup chopped celery, washed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Indian spice mix
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4–6 ounces fresh crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Herb flowers, such as chives, sage, and hyssop
  • Saltand freshly ground black pepper

Method

Melt the butter in a pot. Add the leek, celery, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Cover and sweat over low heat for 5 minutes.

While this is cooking, add the Indian spice mix to the sour cream and mix well. Cover and keep chilled, stirring a couple of times to thoroughly dissolve the Indian spice mix in the cream. It should sit at least 30 minutes. Then gently mix the crabmeat into the spice cream.

Uncover the pot with the vegetables. Stir in the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cover and sweat another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes more.

Prepare an ice bath and place a bowl in it.

Puree the mushrooms and vegetables, and put them through a coarse sieve into the bowl in the ice bath. Stir the soup until it is cold, and then add the heavy cream. Season and keep chilled (but not too cold) until ready to serve.

Serve in chilled open soup bowls or plates, with a dollop of the curried crabmeat in the center. Scatter the herb flowers over the crab.

Variation

Fast mushroom soup: Make some mushroom hash, then mix it with half its volume of cream, heat but do not boil, and season. Serve with a piece of garlic toast on top.

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