“An excellent lunch or light supper need be no more than a good soup.” – Julia Child
I spent Friday night cooking up some of Julia Child’s favorite soups with chef Mary Bergin of Sur La Table, a pastry chef who worked with Child on her “Baking with Julia” TV series and cookbook.
The group of 16 students gathered to recreate recipes from Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” starting with Volume 1, Chapter 1.
Most of the students wore pearls in honor of the ever-elegant Julia, and Elizabeth Sanders of Santa Rosa wore a vintage, blue feather hat, just for fun.
Thanks to a delicious, homemade fish stock, the Bouillabaise emerged as a rich, aromatic bowl of briny goodness, studded with lobster meat, shrimp, clams, mussels and salmon. (For recipe, see the Press Democrat food and wine section on Nov. 4.)
Child’s unctuous Potage Veloute aux Champignons (Cream of Mushroom Soup) also brought students to their knees to worship at the apron strings of the master cook.
Bergin used King Trumpet mushrooms for the soup’s piece de resistance, but any meaty, woodsy mushroom would do the trick.
According to our Italian sources, the recent rains interspersed with sunshine have provided ideal growing conditions at the Sonoma Coast for the earthy porcini (a k a cepes or Boletes) mushrooms. You can also purchase porcinis from Oregon at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
For this recipe, you will need a large, Dutch oven; enamaled saucepan; fine mesh strainer, 3-quart mixing bowl, wire whip and wooden spoon.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Serves 6 to 8 people
¼ cup minced onions
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups boiling chicken stock (or canned chicken broth seasoned with 2 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf and ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped stems from 1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
Thinly sliced caps from 1 pound fresh mushrooms
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 egg yolks
½ cup whipping cream
1 to 3 tablespoons softened butter
Cook the onions slowly in the butter for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are tender but not browned. Add the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes without browning. Off the heat, beat in the boiling stock or broth and blend it thoroughly with the flour. Season to taste. Stir in the mushroom stems, and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Strain, pressing juices out of mushroom stems. Return the soup to the pan.
Melt the butter in the enameled saucepan. When it is foaming, toss in the mushrooms, salt and lemon juice. Cover and cook slowly for 5 minutes.
Pour the mushrooms and their cooking juices into the strained soup base. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks and cream in the mixing bowl. Then beat in hot soup by spoonfuls until a cup has been added. Gradually stir in the rest. Correct seasoning. Return the soup to the pan and stir over moderate heat for a minute or two to poach the egg yolks, but do not let the soup come near the simmer.
Off heat, stir in the butter by tablespoons. Pour the soup into a tureen or soup cups, and decorate with herbs.