This is a wonderfully dramatic way to show off wild mushrooms. It’s almost a mushroom stew except that the mushrooms are sitting over a shallow layer of flavorful broth instead of being bound together with a thick sauce.
In this recipe the mushrooms are sautéed with shallots, garlic, and parsley in olive oil. There are no hard and fast rules, so feel free to play around with different herbs or different cooking fats, such as butter or, best of all, goose or duck fat.
This soup is best served in the spring or fall, when you have the best selection of mushrooms.
Check the mushrooms carefully for sand and grit. If they need washing, rinse them quickly under running water and drain them immediately. Don’t let them sit in water, or they’ll get soggy.
If the mushrooms are small, leave them whole. Larger mushrooms may need to be sliced or cut into smaller pieces, but do your best to show off the natural shapes of the mushrooms, which make this soup so visually striking.
Stir together the shallots, garlic, and parsley in a small mixing bowl. (The French call this mixture a persillade.)
Bring the broth to a slow simmer and season it with salt and pepper.
Make sure the mushrooms are perfectly dry and sauté them in the olive oil over high heat. Don’t put more than one layer of mushrooms in the pan at once, or they will release water and stew in their own juices.
When the mushrooms begin to brown and shrink slightly, after about 7 minutes, sprinkle the persillade over them and sauté for 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the broth into wide soup bowls and arrange the mushrooms over the broth.
© 2000 James Peterson. All rights reserved.