Mushroom Soup

Last year, I went to Russia for awhile and stayed with my friend Anna and her family in Moscow, which was a great experience for me. Moscow is an amazing place to spend time, with its plethora of museums and other cultural events. Anna has an absolutely adorable little brother, Vanya, and occasionally, we would go mushroom picking in the yard. Anna’s mother would then take our harvest and turn it into a meal, usually mushroom soup, which was so delectable that I had to recreate it when I returned to New York. So, this is my variation on Anna’s mother’s mushroom soup. I like to use imported dried mushrooms from Poland, because I think that they give the best flavour. If you cannot find these, porcini mushrooms are probably the best substitute – the Polish ones are a different type of porcini (I believe…). Usually, I supplement the dried mushrooms with some fresh ones – this time, I threw in some enokis, because I think that they are just the cutest, and some fresh porcini.

mushroom soup

Mushroom Soup
1 medium onion, sliced
4 carrots, sliced into rounds
3 celery stalks, sliced
20 g dried mushrooms
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
2-3 tbs butter
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3/4″ cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream (garnish)
Dill (garnish)

1. If the dried mushrooms are whole, soak them in water for 4 hours to soften, then rinse well to remove any lingering sand and slice into strips. If they are already sliced, soak them for 1 hour and rinse.
2. Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the carrot, celery, mushroom, potato, salt and pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are slightly softened.
3. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4. Top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dill just before serving.

Green Minestrone

In an attempt to allow my friend, Cassandra, to gain exposure to cooking, we have decided to make a different soup every Thursday before watching Grey’s Anatomy. We kicked off the festivities this week with some green minestrone. For those of you living in the NYC area, this soup was inspired by the green minestrone at Supper, a fabulous little Italian restaurant on 2nd Street and Avenue A. I recommend the Caesar salad with black sea salt and fried sweetbreads – it is a meal in itself.  We used store-bought pesto (“All-Natural”) because all of my processing equipment has died within the past 6 months, but I’ve included my mother’s pesto recipe at the bottom in case you are feeling motivated to make your own. The brand that we used seemed the closest approximation to the real thing (Buitoni is NOT – it has too much Parmesan, but it does taste better than the canned varieties that are not fresh).


green minestrone

Green Minestrone
2 tbs olive oil
[Mirepoix – thank you, Gabriel, for this word
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced]
2 medium zucchini, chopped into 1/4″ chunks
8 oz pesto (see recipe below – if you really love pesto, add more!!!)
2 15-oz cans of small white beans
5 quarts of water (or however much you need for your stock pot)
Soup pasta of your choice (dittalini work well in this soup, we used miniature shells)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the olive oil in a stock pot, and add the onion when the oil is hot. Saute for about 2 minutes, then add the carrot, celery and zucchini. Saute the vegetables together for about 10 minutes, until they are slightly softened. Stir in the pesto and saute for about 5 more minutes.
2. Add the water followed by the white beans, then add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
3. Just before serving, cook pasta according to directions and add to the soup.

4 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 c packed fresh basil leaves, minced
1/3 c packed flat Italian parsley, minced
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 c pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
1/2 c olive oil (may need a little more)

Whir dry ingredients in a blender or crush with a mortar and pestle to a fine paste, adding the olive oil a few drops at a time. Mix the oil in well after each addition until it is completely used up and the texture of the mixture is smooth. Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for several days, covered with a thin layer of olive oil and covered. Let warm to room temperature before using.