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This soup takes a long time to make, but the flavor is well worth it! The Wild Mushroom Stock is essential, however, to give it a deep, woodsy flavor.
Wild mushroom stock
Makes 6-8 cups.
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1½ tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped (optional)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1½ cup leek greens, roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 to 6 thyme branches or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 branches parsley, roughly chopped
3 sage leaves or large pinch dried sage
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
9 cups cold water
3 tablespoons butter
1 small red onion, cut into ½-inch squares
3 leeks, white part only (8 ounces), sliced into ¼-inch rounds or half-rounds
1 pound potatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons salt, divided
6 cups Stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 to 12 ounces mushrooms, irregularly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
½ to 1 cup light or heavy cream (optional)
Fresh herbs: parsley, chervil, tarragon, thyme, finely chopped, for garnish
Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup hot water and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot; add the vegetables, herbs, garlic, salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Next add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid plus the 9 cups cold water, and bring to a boil; simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve. Use stock as is or return it to stove and reduce it further to intensify the flavor as much as desired. Generally it takes about 15 minutes at a slow boil to reduce the volume of liquid by 1 cup.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a soup pot and add the onion and leeks. Cook over high heat for several minutes, stirring frequently; then lower the heat and add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups of the stock. Cover the pot and stew the vegetables over low heat for about 10 minutes.
Heat the remaining tablespoon butter and the olive oil in a wide skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat until they begin to release their juices, stirring as needed. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the wine; cook until the wine is reduced and syrupy. Scrape the mushrooms into the soup pot; add the remaining 4 cups of stock. Bring to a boil; simmer slowly, covered, until the potatoes are completely soft, about 25 minutes.
Taste the soup and season with more salt, if needed, and freshly ground pepper. Add the cream, if using, and heat through. Serve the soup garnished with the fresh herbs.
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