Chanterelle mushroom soup ready for my demo at the mushroom festival.

Chanterelle mushroom soup ready for my demo at the mushroom festival.

I am in the kitchen again. It is a gorgeous late October fall day and my garden is beckoning. But, I am focused on my purpose today, and that is creating my own recipe for chanterelle mushroom soup. Chanterelles are in season and available from local foragers, at the farmers’ market and at many local grocery stores so I don’t have trouble finding some nice specimens.

The cutting board is laid out. I have my knives lined up. Kosher salt, pepper, butter, sweet onions, chanterelles, fresh thyme, and dry white wine stand at the ready.

I follow recipes, sure I do. Then there are the times where, well, one recipe falls short, so I look at two or three more, and then I tinker. Maybe there is that one ingredient that I think needs adding. Using basic cooking skills, and sometimes those of the more advanced variety, I create my own masterpiece that is uniquely mine, while drawing inspiration from on-line and cook books alike.

Why, you ask? That is a good question. The pursuit of flavor, the fun of creating something slightly better, that is what entices me to chop and sauté, smell and taste. I wonder if this is what perfume makers do, but using their knowledge of smell to create.

I think the main reason I love the creative process is that mastering of something and then sharing the result, and hearing the oohs and aahhs when you’ve hit on something special.

One of my motivations for this particular foray into the creative cooking process is the local mushroom fest (#mountpisgahmushroomfestival). My friend and fellow writer, Jennifer Burns Bright (, invited me to share a basic mushroom soup recipe for one of the culinary demos at the festival. I got a little carried away, adding a butter to spread on toast to top the soup. You can make the basic soup in no time. Adding the toasts doubles the chanterelle flavor.

Recipe in progress

Recipe in progress

I started with the mushroom stock the day before, cleaning the pine needles and other forest-floor specks from the chanterelles with a mushroom brush. You don’t want to clean mushrooms with water because they will absorb it. I smashed the garlic cloves with the side of my knife, much easier to peel the skin away. Chopped the onions and then melted butter in the pan to sauté my aromatics – onion, garlic, with the chanterelles. I added a bit of salt to help the onion to soften – melt – as it sautéed. I then added chicken stock. I let the stock cool and then put it in the refrigerator overnight so the flavors had a chance to mingle.

Today, I begin on the soup. I take notes as I go on blank paper, jotting down ideas and the steps I am taking. To the side I add ideas about what to show and tell at the demo.

I grab my stock out of the refrigerator and strain out the larger pieces of mushroom for later use in the chanterelle butter. The stock goes on the back burner on a low medium setting to keep it warm.

Next, I cook down eight cups of sweet onion with two cups of chopped chanterelles in butter in a heavy bottomed pan. I add in molasses to add richness to the broth. I pepper in thyme and then white wine to deglaze the pan. I start with ½ cup of wine. I decide that isn’t enough. There are a lot of onions here. More wine is needed!

I then add the warm stock from yesterday and the ½ cup heavy cream. I don’t want too much cream, just enough to add flavor but not to overpower the chanterelles.

This is where the crux of the creative process comes in– the taste testing. I take various small samples out of the batch and add more salt to see how that brings out the flavor. Yes, needs more salt. Then I add a little sherry to my small sample. Mmmmm. That adds a slight sharpness. I add a smidge of sherry to the pot. Now, I am satisfied with the soup. The pot goes on simmer for 25 minutes.

The chanterelle toasts and butter come next. I slice and toast 12 pieces of French bread in the oven four minutes to a side at 400 degrees. While the bread toasts I mince shallot, grate some pecorino romano and gruyere and toss it all in the food processor with the reserved chanterelles from the stock, unsalted butter, dry vermouth and salt and pepper.

I call my husband over to taste a sample of the soup with the toast and butter spread. I interrogate him about the flavors. He pronounces it delicious. My mushroom opus is ready for the limelight.


Chanterelle Mushroom Soup with Chanterelle Butter Toasts

Serves 6

Mushroom stock (make day ahead and refrigerate overnight)

1 large chanterelle (or use morel or other mushrooms), chopped in several large pieces – makes it easier to retrieve from strainer later on

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sweet onion, halved, then thinly sliced (I use a mandoline)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

9 cups of stock (you can use store bought or make your own chicken, vegetable or beef stock)

1 cup of water

Directions for Stock

Sauté onion, salt and garlic in butter for three minutes. Add mushroom. Sauté one minute more. Add stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool. Store in refrigerator for four hours or overnight to meld flavors. Before you start to prepare the soup, strain the mushroom pieces out and reserve for the chanterelle butter.


Chanterelle Mushroom Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

8 cups sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 cups fresh chanterelles or other mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into ½” pieces

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, stripped and coarsely chopped

1 cup white wine

½ cup heavy cream (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Sherry to taste (right before long simmer)

Directions for Soup

In a heavy bottomed pan melt butter until foamy. Add mushrooms, onions, and a bit of salt. Sauté on medium until golden brown and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add molasses, salt and pepper to taste, sauté another minute or two more. Add the thyme and the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add all the mushroom stock and heavy cream. Taste a small sample, and add a couple drops of sherry, salt and pepper. Then adjust full batch of soup depending on flavor by adding sherry, salt and pepper in small amounts. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Sample again and adjust sherry, salt, pepper, wine and cream to your liking. Serve this satisfying soup with two of the chanterelle butter toasts per bowl. Savor!


Chanterelle Butter on Toast

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

2 teaspoons minced shallot

¼ cup grated hard cheese, such as parmesan, pecorino romano, gruyere, or aged cheddar

1 ½ tablespoons dry vermouth

12 slices French baguette, toasted

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Butter on Toasts

Combine butter, shallots, hard cheese, dry vermouth, and chanterelles reserved from the stock and purée in food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread butter on toasts. Serve bowls of soup with two toasts per bowl.