|4||ounces||mushrooms, wild||maitake AKA hen of the woods fresh*|
|1||ounces||mushrooms, dried||mixed gourmet, porcini, shitake, etc.*|
|2||cups||water||boiling to soak dried mushrooms|
|1||each||onion||peeled and diced|
|1||small||potato||peeled and diced|
|2||tablespoons||soy sauce||dark or light|
|1||teaspoon||thyme||dried, or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme*|
|1||each||rosemary sprigs||leaves only, optional*|
|1||x||sea salt||to taste*|
We find our fresh Maitake mushrooms (hen of the woods) in a chinese grocery store chain (T&T run by Loblaws) for less than $2/pkg. They can be found in many Asian markets (or from the mushroom guy at a farmers market) either fresh or dried.
The medicinal values are believed to include strengthening the heart, helping to remove pollutants from the body (detoxification) and improving the immune system along with helping your little man below perform. :)
Personally we like them because they taste great, rich and delicious adding wonderful earthy warm flavor.
Place the dried mushrooms in a glass measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms, cover with plastic wrap and let steep.
Trim the leek, wash well. Slice only the tender green and white parts for the soup, reserved the tough green parts to enrich the vegetable stock (if desired).
In a large pot, bring the vegetable stock to the boil.
Add the bay leaf and tough parts of the leek, reduce heat and allow to simmer.
Drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the mushroom water that is loaded with flavor.
Strain the mushroom stock through a coffee filter to remove any grit and add to the vegetable stock.
In a large sauté pan (or pot large enough to hold the finished soup) heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onion, shallots, leek, celery and carrot to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. If brown bit form in the sauté pan this a good thing!
Remove the leek and bay leaf from the simmering vegetable stock and discard.
Add the fresh maitake mushrooms to the sauté pan (pot) and cook for about 5 minutes.
Deglaze the sauté pan (or pot) with the sherry (wine or cognac or even beer) scraping up any of those browned bits of flavor. Or just use the vegetable mushroom stock if there is no sherry on hand.
To the sauté pan (or pot) add the potatoes, thyme, rosemary, soy sauce and finally the vegetable stock. If your sauté pan seems a bit small just transfer the veggies to the pot itself.
Cover and bring to a simmer.
Allow to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through.
Using a hand held stick immersion blender whizz the soup until smooth and creamy in the sauté pot. Or alternatively transfer to a blender (be careful it's hot) and blend until smooth and creamy.
Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt.
Ladle into soup bowls and serve. If you have fresh thyme sprinkle a few leaves on top for garnish.
Serve. It also works well to add a dollop of cream fraiche or sour cream.
First published: 2011-04-27 last updated: 2014-10-28
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