Today I bring you a haiku to bisque, entitled Bisque:
Bisque, you warm my heart
and pad my bottom with your
ample cream, butter.
Ok, so I have to work on my haiku skills. I never have been one for metered poetry. But I’ve always been one for ample cream and butter, and that most certainly is the defining charicteristic of a bisque. Well, our modern understanding of bisque that is. Turns out, we’ve gotten pretty loose with this formerly highly specific term. In Julia Child’s day, bisque refferred only to a very specific kind of soup – one that was based on a strained broth of twice cooked (bis cuites in French) crustaceans the shells of which are then ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup. But there’s something about the word bisque itself that I like so much that I’m bucking tradition and calling this creamy homage to mushrooms a bisque. Because I’m loose and modern like that…
(serves four as a main course, six as a starter)
If you don’t have access to good dried mushrooms, you may omit them and substitute the mushroom broth they produce with packaged mushroom or vegetable broth.
4-6 ounces of sourdough bread, thinly sliced, crusts removed
4 tbs. butter
1 1/2 lb white and crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, chopped
4 cups water
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms – porcini, chanterelle, or morel
1/3 cup cream
3 tbs. minced dill plus additional sprigs for garnish
2 tbs. minced sage plus additional minced sage for optional garnish
First, rehydrate your dried mushrooms by placing them in a 4 cup liquid measuring cup (or large bowl that will pour easily) and covering with 4 cups of boiling water. Stir and allow to sit 20 minutes or until the dried mushrooms are tender. Once tender, remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and roughly chop, then set aside both the mushrooms and the mushroom broth.
Cut your sliced bread into 1″ cubes and toast until golden brown.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot melt your butter. Saute your shallots for a few minutes, until they are translucent, then add your garlic and sage and cook an additional minute. Add your chopped, fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the mushrooms are softened pour your cream and reserved mushroom broth over them, being careful not to pour out the last bit of broth which will be cloudy and contain mushroom grit. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and allow to simmer until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Once the mushrooms are tender add your toasted bread cubes and allow the soup to continue simmering for an additional 5 minutes.
Working in batches if necessary, puree the soup in a blender, food processor or in the pot with an immersion blender. Once pureed return to the pot, add your minced dill and season again with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot garnished with additional dill sprigs and chopped rehydrated mushrooms. If you have extra sage consider mincing it and frying it in a layer of butter until crispy for an additional garnish.