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Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup With Herbs

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: This works well as a starter for a dinner party, or for a simple meal, with a salad on the side. From “Once Upon a Chef,” by Jennifer Segal.

• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 1 c. chopped shallots

• 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

• 1/4 c. flour

• 1 1/2 lb. mixed wild mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, portobello), stemmed and roughly chopped

• 1/2 c. dry white wine, divided

• 5 c. low-sodium chicken broth

• 1 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 c. heavy cream

• 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

• 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage

• 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

• Homemade Herb Croutons (see recipe), or store-bought croutons, for garnish

Directions

In large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute more, then add mushrooms, 1/4 cup wine, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender.

Using slotted spoon, remove about 2 large ladlesful of mushrooms and set aside (don’t worry if there are some shallots mixed in there). Using a handheld immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. (Alternatively, let soup cool slightly and use a blender to purée in batches. Be sure to remove center knob on blender top and cover with a dish towel to avoid splatters; fill blender only halfway to process.)

Stir in cream, remaining 1/4 cup wine, thyme, sage and reserved mushrooms. Bring to simmer, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle into bowls and top with chives and croutons.

Homemade Herb Croutons

Makes about 2 cups.

Note: From “Once Upon a Chef,” by Jennifer Segal.

• 2 c. cubed French or Italian bread, preferably day old

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

• 2 tsp. finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, chives, sage and/or rosemary

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set oven rack in middle position. Line a 13- by 18-inch baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

Directly on prepared baking sheet, toss bread cubes with melted butter and herbs. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, tossing once, until bread cubes are golden brown and crisp. Let cool and store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in freezer for several weeks.