summary: recipes for parsley pistou with hazelnuts, mushroom soup made with dried and fresh mushrooms; sesame rings; (click on image(s) to see larger views and more photos)
Sesame rings aren’t just for middle eastern food. They’re fantastic with mushroom soup too.
And it wasn’t just any mushroom soup that we had the other night. This is quite different from the cream of mushroom soup we’re accustomed to eating. And as much as I adore the old style of mushroom soup, I’m thinking that I will always want this new style one based on Matt Cowan’s (Simple Bistro) mushroom bisque with hazelnut pistou featured in the Toronto Star’s Chef’s showcase this month.
Traditional cream of mushroom soup has pieces of mushroom. The bisque is pureed and has only a few pieces of mushroom for garnish in each bowl. And of course, there’s the addition of the stunning emerald green pistou.
Look, compare the two and tell me which you would choose to have:
cream of mushroom soup
mushroom bisque with pistou
It’s a dilemma, isn’t it? Here’s what T did to make this wonderful mushroom soup using dried and fresh mushrooms:
Mushroom Soup with Hazelnut Pistou
based on the recipe for Matt Cowan’s Mushroom bisque with parsley-hazelnut pistou
Because it was T (he who shuns measuring devices) making the soup, there are no precise quantities.
small bunch flat leaf parsley
handful of hazelnuts
1-2 cloves garlic
good splash olive oil
splash cold water
some dried Porcini mushrooms
good shot of white mushrooms
small handful fresh mushrooms, sliced
Pistou: Heat a small cast-iron pan to medium heat. Add the hazelnuts and leave for a couple of minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon. Remove the hazelnuts from the pan to the board to allow to cool. When they are cool enough to touch, rub them back and forth with the palms of your hands to remove the skins. Don’t worry if there is a little skin left. Set aside briefly.
Boil salted water in a smallish pot. Add the parsley and blanch for 10 seconds. Immediately drain and plunge the parsley into very cold water until it has cooled. Drain, dry and chop coarsely.
Put parsley, hazelnuts, garlic, oil and water in a blender (we used our magic Bullet) and puree. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small pyrex bowl. Try not to eat it all before it goes into the fridge until serving time.
Soup: Place dried mushrooms in a small pyrex bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to sit for about half an hour. Remove from liquid (reserve the mushrooms and the liquid!). Pour the mushroom water through a fine sieve to get rid of any unwanted sediment. Rinse mushrooms off and chop them coarsely with a sharp knife and set both aside.
Heat a frying pan and add some olive oil. Toss in fresh mushroom slices and cook til the liquid has dissipated and there is some gold on the mushrooms. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put oil into a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and golden, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon. Add garlic slices and continue cooking til you can smell the garlic (about 2 minutes). Deglaze the pan with sherry.
Add fried mushroom (reserve a small amount to use as garnish), reconstituted dried mushrooms, mushroom broth and chicken stock. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. As soon as it does, turn it down to simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring from time to time for about 30 minutes.
Purée the soup. Add milk til it’s the consistency you like. Add butter (for richness – Cowan makes his bisque with cream). Season with salt and pepper. Heat through – without boiling.
Serve hot in small bowls as an appetizer or in large bowls with sesame bread rings as a main course. Garnish each bowl with spoonful or two of pistou, reserved mushroom slices and optional parsley leaves. Serve extra pistou on the side.
Cowan garnished with small fresh mushrooms. We prefer the flavour of cooked mushrooms.
Cowan’s pistou appears to be much thinner and a darker green than ours. Perhaps he used more water. Our pistou was so fabulous that we don’t really want to even try exactly reproducing Cowan’s no doubt equally delicious version.
The pistou is really terrific as a dip for bread and would be perfect for those wary ones who might shun the idea of dipping their spoons into any kind of mushroom soup.
But for those like us (like we???) who love the idea of mushroom soup, we’re thinking that the soup would make a fantastic appetizer for a festive dinner. We must remmeber to make it for next New Year’s Eve dinner… oooooh, and wouldn’t it be brilliant to serve just before a charcoal grilled steak in the autumn?