Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Soup

This is the best damn mushroom soup I’ve ever had. The basis for the recipe is Creamy Mushroom Soup with Velvet Chicken from Williams-Sonoma’s Soup & Stewwhich, if you are serious about making soups, you should go out and buy it immediately. 

I adapted the recipe by poaching chicken thighs, which cooks them and makes broth for the soup, rather than relying on pre-made stock. This is, by far, my favorite way to cook chicken thighs: the meat literally falls away from the skin and bones; it is immensely flavorful, but doesn’t dry out the way chicken breast meat tends to do. Chicken thighs, in this case, save you both time and money while boosting chicken flavor. In my version, the intensity of the porcini mushrooms is enhanced by the woody, earthy character of fresh thyme. Finally, you can’t do without the Tawny Port, which is nice to drink while you cook and lovely beside this delicious soup.  

What is Tawny Port? Here are two good articles that explain:

What’s the difference between a tawny Port and a Vintage Port?

The Tenets of Tawny Port

Creamy Mushroom and Chicken Soup

Adapted from Creamy Mushroom Soup with Velvet Chicken from Williams-Sonoma’s Soup & Stew

Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

Poached chicken and chicken broth:

  • Chicken pieces (we used 3 chicken thighs)
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • water to cover

For the soup:

  • 1 ounce (1 package?) dried porcini mushrooms + water to cover
  • 1/4 cup un-salted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pint fresh brown cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1+ quarts broth (from poaching the chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Tawny Port
  • Fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Poach the chicken:

Add chicken pieces, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, thyme, peppercorns, and a tablespoon of salt to a large pot. Add water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Skim off any fat or gunk that collects at the surface (see what I mean?). Add a little more water as needed, you want at least 1 quart of broth for the soup; I ended up with 1 & 1/2 quarts extra that I froze for later. Simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, about 40 minutes. Strain the poaching liquid (the chicken broth) and reserve. Reserve the chicken pieces. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones and into bite sized pieces and reserve. Discard the bones.

Make the soup:

In a small saucepan, combine the porcini mushrooms with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Do not drain.

Heat the butter in your soup pot over medium heat, then add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and mushroom mixture. Cook, stirring continuously, until the flour coats the veggies and just starts to stick. (Do not burn the flour, you’re aiming for a very light brown.) 

Now, drain those porcini mushrooms through a fine colander, reserving the liquid. Add those mushrooms and their liquid to the soup pot along with the soy sauce and the reserved broth from poaching the chicken. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Off the heat, puree the soup with an immersion blender (you need one of these for making soup–this is mine–get one today). Leave as much or as little texture as you like. I like it very smooth. Add the Port and the cream, give it a quick zoom with your blender and return the pot to the heat and adding your chicken pieces. Simmer for about 5 more minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in warm bowls and sprinkled with the fresh thyme with a glass of Tawny Port and some buttered crusty bread on the side.

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