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Oeuvre: Keller: Mushroom Soup

Oeuvre: Keller: Mushroom Soup

Soup in winter is one life’s greatest pleasures. There’s nothing quite like sitting down to a big bowl of steamy soup with some crusty bread and a bottle of wine. Before I taught myself how to cook, I always assumed making soup was incredibly easy. However, after a couple of attempts at what I thought would be simple soups, I realized that it’s not a task one can go about lightly. Sure, to an extent it is. You basically just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, add water and let it do its thing. The soup will turn out perfectly edible, but not that good.

I gave up on soups until I started working in a kitchen. I had to make soup for 50 people every day. It was in this kitchen I learned that taking a little extra time and following simple, proper technique can turn your soup from a watered down mess into a rich dish with many layers of taste. If you’ve kept up to date with our oeuvre on Thomas Keller, you know by now how much he stresses proper technique. Soup Keller-style epitomizes the emphasis on technique I learned in the kitchen and that he preaches in his cookbooks.

A mushroom soup with good potatoes, a lot of garlic and Tuscan kale (I think greens are underutilized in soups) sounded like a great recipe to try out. I will first admit that I wimped out on making the mushroom stock for this soup. I simply didn’t want to clean four pounds of mushrooms, so I just bought some broth from the store. This was adequate, but I regret not making my own stock.

One issue I had was making the garlic confit for the puree. The stove I was working on doesn’t have the best flame control. Often, if one is trying for really low heat, the flame will eventually just go out. Due to this issue, the oil got too hot and the garlic colored too quickly. This did not make for the best tasting puree.

I was introduced to the parchment lid technique. Basically, you take a piece of parchment roughly the size of your pot and make a lid out of it, with a vent in the middle. This keeps the liquid from evaporating and drying out whatever you’re poaching or braising. It’s a very useful technique that I will use in the future.

Even with the store-bought broth, the soup was great. It had that wonderful, earthy flavor of mushroom in every bite. The potatoes and pieces of mushrooms added some much needed body to the soup while the kale added another layer of earthiness. Finishing the soup with the garlic puree, olive oil and vinegar took it to another level. Another great soup by Thomas Keller.

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