Anthony Bourdain is an astonishingly good food writer, right up there with MLK Fisher in my book. Before he became a familiar figure on Television and the star of his former show “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “The Layover” and his current one on CNN “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, he authored a book called “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” (Bloomsbury Books 2000). It’s a wonder he wasn’t completely ostracized by the culinary community because the book exposed all kinds of dirty little secrets of the restaurant trade. The book was an outgrowth of an article he wrote in The New Yorker entitled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This”. He’s been churning out articles, essays and books ever since. He wasn’t always a writer. He was first and foremost a cook. For years Bourdain was the Executive chef at a New York bistro called Brasserie Les Halles. In 2004, he put together “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook” (Bloomsbury 2004). This is a very long way around to tell you that this where I found this phenomenal recipe. It’s for a mushroom soup that, were it not for a significant quantity of butter, be dairy-free and yet the creamiest mushroom soup I have ever eaten. As long as you’ve got a blender and about an hour to make it, you’re in for a treat.
I made this soup on a snow day when soup is about as comforting as the slippers and bathrobe you never change out of. It’s so monumentally easy to make: A small onion is softened in a sea of butter, then the quartered mushrooms are added and softened briefly before a single sprig of parsley and 4 cups of stock are added, the mixture brought to a boil then turned down to simmer for an hour. You can make this completely vegetarian by using vegetable stock or you can go with the original call for chicken stock. I ended up using a bit of both—out of necessity since I ran out of one. After the mushroom, onion and stock mixture has simmered, it cools briefly. Then it goes into the blender with the following admonition from Anthony: “Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender’s lid firmly held down and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom purée to erupt all over your kitchen?”. I told you the man can write although I was able to blend the entire content of the saucepan in one feel swoop. You add a little good sherry, salt and pepper to taste and in a couple more minutes on the stove, you will have a soup that’s astonishingly thick and creamy. One more thing: If you are a Trader Joe’s shopper, you can create this entire recipe with 1 10 oz. box of Cremini mushrooms, 1 whole container of Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock, 6 oz. of Trader Joe’s Unsalted Butter, an onion and a spring of parsley. Bourdain claims the soup tastes even better the second day. Sorry, but I could not wait. Here is the recipe.
Recipe for Anthony Bourdain’s Mushroom Soup from “Les Halles Cookbook” The recipe says Serves 4. We served 2 with nothing left over.
6 tbsp/75 g butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
12 ounces/340 g button or cremini mushrooms
4 cups/900 ml light chicken stock or broth
1 sprig of flat parsley
Salt and pepper
2 ounces/56 ml high-quality sherry
(If you do not have ‘good’ sherry,omit this ingredient.
Cooking Sherry is NOT a substitute.)
1. In the medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons/28 g of the butter over low heat and add the onion. Take the time to cook until the onion is soft and translucent.
2. Add the mushrooms and the remaining butter. Let the mixture sweat for about 8 minutes, taking care that the onion doesn’t take on any brown color which is best achieved by low temperature cooking.
3. Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.
4. After an hour, remove the parsley and discard. Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth. When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again. Add the sherry, mix well, and serve immediately.