To me, January is all about soups. Although this one is simple to make, when dressed up with the crushed walnut and roasted mushroom garnish, it is worthy of a fancy dinner. This soup is also delicious simmered with a couple of sprigs of rosemary -- tie them in a piece of cheesecloth or place in a reusable tea bag and remove after the mushrooms are cooked. It also tastes delightful with leeks added after cooking the shallots -- use white parts only as the greens will alter the color of the soup.
In general mushroom soups can end up being grey in color, which is not that appealing; for this reason I add a little turmeric to give it a warmer glow. One last note: Choose smaller oyster mushrooms as the larger, thicker ones can take a long time to cook.
Herbed Shitake and Oyster Mushroom Soup with Toasted Walnuts
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large shallots, sliced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 to 3 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- ¾ pound fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
- 1 ½ pounds fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
- 5 cups filtered water, plus more when blending
- 2 teaspoons tamari, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ pound shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- ½ pound oyster mushrooms, sliced in 1/3-inch slices
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Sea salt, to taste
- ¼ cup small, fresh whole sage leaves
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- Sprigs of fresh thyme
How to Make the Soup:
- Warm oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browning. Add salt and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in thyme and sage and then add mushrooms. (I stir them in as I chop them, so they wilt and make space). Add bay leaves and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves.
- Carefully transfer contents of the pot in batches into an upright blender and blend until completely smooth and velvety. This takes a couple of minutes. You will need to add more water to get it to blend well -- add ½ cup at a time until you achieve your desired consistency. Your mushroom soup should be thick and creamy.
- Return to pot and stir in tamari, salt, and pepper to taste.
How to Make the Garnish:
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and add walnuts. Toast nuts for 6 minutes and remove from oven. Slide nuts off parchment paper and onto a chopping board. Replace paper on tray and add sliced mushrooms and sage leaves.
- Drizzle mushrooms with 3 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Gently toss to combine and spread out over tray. Roast for 15 minutes, stir, and return to oven for another 5 to 8 minutes or until mushrooms are browning and sage leaves are crisp.
- While mushrooms roast, finely chop walnuts and place in a small bowl. Add remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and set aside until ready to serve.
- Warm soup and ladle into bowls. Dot with toasted walnut mixture and a pinch of roasted mushrooms and sage leaves. Finish with a few thyme sprigs and black pepper.