This recipe was originally published in the Seasonal Table Column that I write for Flavor Magazine (Oct-Nov 2011 issue).
As the weather cools off, spinach is happily growing for us again, a versatile green delicious raw or cooked. I love the earthy combination of spinach and mushrooms, in salads, stews or soups. And since cultivated mushrooms are available year long in the Mid-Atlantic, some foraged, some grown outdoors like shiitake on logs and others in mushroom houses, local mushrooms are fairly easy to find. You can use any mushroom for this soup, including white mushrooms or a combination of mushrooms. And for a splurge, go for shiitakes or oyster mushrooms or any other that strike your fancy.
Mushroom and Spinach Soup
Yields about 2 QUARTS (8 1-cup servings or 4 2-Cup servings)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled, quartered and very thinly sliced
- 2/3 lb mushroom
- 2 clove garlic, any green removed, and sliced as thinly as possible.
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves + more for garnish
- 1 medium potato, scrubbed, peeled if desired, diced (keep in water until ready to use to prevent blackening)
- 1 quart chicken or beef broth, preferably homemade
- 3 cups loose leaf spinach, thoroughly cleaned, stems removed and leaves torn in small pieces if they are big.
- salt & pepper to taste
In a Dutch-oven set over medium heat, spoon 2 tablespoons oil. Add onion, and cook for about 3 minutes. Lower heat and cook another 15 minutes – stirring occasionally – until onions are soft but not brown. Remove the onions and reserve.
Meanwhile, sort through the mushrooms: set aside the prettiest & smallest ones (about ¼ to 1/3 of the total). Clean and trim all the mushrooms. In your “pretty” pile, slice the larger caps and leave the small ones intact (if the foot is large and woody, remove and set in the other pile). In your “not pretty pile”, cut all the mushroom in even size pieces.
Increase the heat to high under the pan that’s now emptied of onions. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the “pretty” mushrooms. Sauté until they start to give up their liquid and crisp at the edges, stirring occasionally – about 7 minutes (adjust heat down to medium high if needed). Remove and reserve.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, and sauté all remaining mushrooms – 7 to 10 minutes. Add cooked onions, garlic, diced potato, and thyme. Stir and add the broth. Bring to boil, then lower heat, and simmer until potato is tender – about 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth, working in batches as needed. Return to the pot, add the spinach leaves and simmer until spinach is wilted – about 3 minutes.
Taste, and salt as desired. Ladle into bowls and decorate with the “pretty” mushrooms. Add more thyme leaves as desired and give each bowl a generous turn of the pepper mill.