For the first course of the first Sunday dinner of 2012, Emily and I made a creamy wild mushroom and turnip soup. There is lots to love about this soup. Most importantly, the soup was incredibly earthy and delicious. Great for cold-ish winter evenings. I also liked that it was creamy without having to use any cream at all, making the soup a healthy dish. My favorite part was the floating island of toast and mushrooms. The soup was thick enough that it only softened the toast rather than soaking right through the piece of bread. Each bite of the island still contained a nice crunch with the taste of soup and mushrooms. I would happily make this again and eat it all on its own.
Creamy Wild Mushroom and Turnip Soup (adapted from the New York Times)
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, sliced, about 2 cups
2 small turnips, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 thyme branch, plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, more if necessary
2 tablespoons chopped dried morel or porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound wild mushrooms, in roughly 1/8-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 slices day-old baguette
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a deep heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat.
Add the onions, turnips, carrot, thyme branch and bay leaf. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over high heat in a wide skillet. When the oil is hot, add the wild mushrooms, stirring with a wooden spoon, allowing them to brown a bit. Season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to medium and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and cook 1 minute more.
Transfer 1/2 cup of the cooked wild mushrooms to a small skillet and add the rest to the soup. Let the pot simmer until the turnips and carrot are quite tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf and thyme branch.
Purée the soup in a blender and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Thin with more broth if it is too thick, and correct the seasoning.
Warm the reserved mushrooms. Toast the baguette slices lightly and put a spoonful of mushrooms on each.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a mushroom toast and little chopped parsley.