Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Hungarian Mushroom Soup is one of my favorite soups of all time. Rich, creamy and warming, this soup can mend marriages, turn cloudy days into sunny ones, and conjure a basket of kittens at will. Also, it tastes really good. Especially when it rains.
The inspiration for today’s recipe comes from a certain baker and cook I used to work with at a sweet little college kitchen in the Northeast Kingdom, back when my kids were small and I lived in the woods. Paul Sweeney, a teddy bear of a man who fixes clocks in his spare time, has cooked and baked in this college kitchen for years. The best lunches were the ones he slung together on a whim and leftovers, but my favorite was his version of The Moosewood Restaurant’s Hungarian Mushroom Soup. A steaming bowl of mushrooms, warmed with paprika and a dash of sherry, was the equivalent of a hug wrapped up in woolly warmth after a cold, wet morning.
Below is my attempt to recreate Paul’s creamy, nourishing Hungarian Mushroom Soup, sans the flour and in a slow cooker for convenience. I hope you enjoy this, but if you ever find yourself up north on a gorgeous Northeast Kingdom fall day, follow your nose to the kitchen on the south side of the common and have the real thing.
Note: Because store-bought mushrooms have so much water, you could skip the oven roasting step when using 1000 Stone Farm’s mushrooms as they have such low water content and are full of flavor. That said, roasting the mushrooms with the onions prior to putting them in the slow cooker brings out a depth and richness to the soup that is reminiscent of the “Paul Sweeney” touch.
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of Shitakes, Oyster and/or Chestnuts, big pieces torn and tender stalks roughly chopped
- 2 shallots, or 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
- 4 T butter, unsalted (1/2 stick) and melted
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 2 cups of chicken stock (OK to sub in chicken broth or vegetable broth)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
- 1 T Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, tarragon, and/or parsley for serving
Cook’s Notes: This recipe calls for a slow cooker, perfect to prep and set up before going for a short hike or a snowy ski, but this can also be prepared and cooked on the stove top in about an hour’s time.
- Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large oven proof skillet, toss mushrooms, shallots and garlic with the melted butter until evenly coated. Spread evenly in the skillet, then roast on a middle rack until fragrant and just tender – 12 to 15 minutes.
- Quickly and carefully transfer contents from hot oven to a 4 qt slow cooker, scraping in any bits of mushrooms, aromatics and fat. While the skillet is still hot, carefully splash in 2 T of sherry and deglaze the pan, adding contents to the slow cooker.
- Add the broth, remaining sherry, dried herbs, Hungarian paprika, and black pepper to the slow cooker. Cover and set to LOW, cooking for 3 hours.
- Using an immersion blender, or transferring ladles of soup to a traditional blender, blend to desired consistency (I like bits of mushrooms suspended in the broth). Return the soup to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for another hour. Just before serving, stir in the lemon zest and heavy cream, reheat if necessary. Garnish with a swirl of sour cream and sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs.