Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Mushroom & Potato Soup
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert
Fall is a great time for hearty and substantial soups. This recipe combines mushrooms available now in many species and your favorite potato. In this application, I have used Yukon Gold varietal, which has a good amount of starch and an appealing color.
5 tablespoons butter, divided
2 leeks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (domestic white or shiitake)
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Fresh dill weeds, for garnish (optional)
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix in leeks and carrots, and cook 5 minutes. Pour in broth. Adjust the flavors with dill, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Mix in potatoes, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but firm. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Melt the remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir into the soup. In a small bowl, mix the half-and-half and flour until smooth. Stir into the soup to thicken. Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh dill to serve.
Info on some types of mushrooms
Mushrooms are fleshy growths of fungus that are used in foods throughout the world. There are many thousands of types of mushrooms. Only a small percentage of them are poisonous, and dozens of different types of mushrooms are not only edible but are considered desirable for eating. Among the most popular of the different types of mushrooms that are used in foods are white mushrooms, morels, truffles and portabella mushrooms. Other popular types include the chanterelle, shiitake, oyster and enoki.
The most common type of mushroom in many grocery stores is the Agaricus bisporus. It is white or light brown and has many common names, such as a white mushroom, table mushroom, Italian mushroom or white button. This mushroom has a stalk, a dome-shaped top and a generally mild taste. White mushrooms are available fresh, dried or canned.
These cone-shaped mushrooms vary in color from tan to brown. Unlike white mushrooms, which have a more smooth surface, morels have a porous, sponge-like appearance above the stalk. They also have a stronger flavor, which has been described as earthy, smoky or even nutty. These mushrooms typically are more expensive than white mushrooms. When harvested from the wild, they should be cleaned thoroughly because of their porous surface.
Truffles are quite rare and expensive, so they are considered a delicacy by many people. Technically, they are not actual mushrooms, but they are closely related. Truffles have a bumpy, uneven appearance. They have a strong, earthy or even meaty taste, and the darker the truffle, the stronger the taste.
Portabella mushrooms are similar to white mushrooms but are much larger and browner in color. They are harvested when they are very mature, which gives them a more dense texture and a deeper flavor. When they are harvested before they reach full maturity, they are called crimini mushrooms, which are commonly substituted for white mushrooms when a slightly stronger is desired.
These mushrooms have a much different look, rising from a white or yellowish stalk and opening into a vase-like or flower-like shape in bright yellow or orange hues. They have a delicate texture, so care must be taken when they are cooked, to avoid having them become tough. Their taste has been described as nutty. Chanterelles are especially popular for use in salads and appetizers.
Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking, School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog