There is an Italian restaurant in downtown San Diego called, Bice, which I have not had the chance to visit yet but I hear so many good things about this place. And what I can't wait to try when I do finally visit the restaurant is their cheese bar. Yes, a cheese bar, and you know me, I love my cheese. I received a newsletter from the restaurant and the chef there shared his recipe for mushroom soup. Immediately I headed over to the farmer's market and bought all my mushrooms and produce and made this recipe. Luckily I already had a small bottle of truffle oil I got in San Francisco, but if you don't have some already, don't bother buying it because it can be quite spendy. I followed the recipe exactly as it is written below and it's quite mushroom-my, and very down-to-earth flavor. I couldn't find smoked mozzarella so I used a combination of regular mozzarella and smoked gouda.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup of hot water
- ½ pound fresh mix of cremini, oyster and portobello mushrooms
- ½ pound fresh porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- >1 clove garlic, sliced
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped shallots
- 1 cup chopped leeks
- 3 ounces pancetta
- 2 bay leaves
- 9 sprigs fresh thyme or tarragon, divided use
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup cubed peeled potatoes
- 1½ tablespoons dry Marsala wine
- 8 ounces shredded smoked Mozzarella
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Package of phyllo dough, thawed
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- Truffle oil (available at specialty food markets)
To make the soup: Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover them with 1 cup of hot water. Leave them to plump for at least 20 minutes. Trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms and brush them to remove any debris. Cut the cremini, porcini, oyster and portobello mushrooms into ¼-inch slices. Set aside.
Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the sliced garlic, chopped shallots, leeks and pancetta. Sauté until soft but not browned.
Add the sliced fresh porcini, cremini, oyster and portobello mushrooms. Quickly stir to coat them with the olive oil and sauté, stirring intermittently, until they are soft and limp. The skillet will be dry at first, but as the mushrooms cook, they begin to release their juices. Continue cooking uncovered. Lift the dried porcini mushrooms out of their soaking water, chop them coarsely, and add them to the sautéed mushrooms. Strain the soaking water through a fine mesh sieve or several thicknesses of cheesecloth into the mushrooms. Continue to stir and cook in the skillet for a few minutes to loosen the cooked bits of mushroom that have adhered to the skillet. Transfer the mushrooms from the skillet to a large saucepan.
Crush the bay leaves and 3 of the thyme or tarragon sprigs with your hand, then wrap the herbs in cheesecloth and secure the pouch with kitchen string. Pour the chicken broth over the mushrooms, add the herb pouch and potato cubes and simmer for 35 minutes.
After 35 minutes, add the Marsala to the saucepan and continue cooking uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and discard the herb pouch, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle the soup into 6 small individual-sized ovenproof bowls.
To make the crust: Separate the sheets of the phyllo pastry and cut 18 squares — 3 squares for each bowl — slightly bigger than the top of your bowls. For each bowl, brush three squares with melted butter and stack on top of each other, layering. Place each set of three squares on top of a bowl, pressing lightly on the edges to create an indentation. Take off the pastry square and brush some beaten egg on the indentation of the bowl on the pastry, as well as portions of the pastry outside the circle.
Cover the bowls with the pastry squares and top each with the shredded smoked mozzarella cheese. Press the pastry firmly but gently so it sticks to the top and sides of the bowl. Make sure the pastry sticks so the pastry will puff up as the soup inside the bowl boils.
Place the bowls of soup on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and broil until the cheese on top is bubbly and browned. To serve, garnish the crust of the soup with the remaining sprigs of fresh thyme or tarragon and brush lightly with truffle oil.
The soup was created by Bice’s executive chef, Mario Cassineri, a native of Milan.