Monday, January 17, 2011

Truffled broad bean and mushroom soup

Last weekend I had a few friends around to my place for dinner and whipped up some Guinness and Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert.  But to start the meal I decided a small bowl of soup was in order, made with the last of the broad beans in my freezer.

Now, when you have a boyfriend who, along with some of his mates, has a very large organic vegetable patch (this is not a euphemism) you will eventually have to find a use for a large amount of broad beans.  Apparently putting nitrogen in the soil is something broad beans do very well.  I personally think they make a seriously good soup, amongst other things.  They also freeze up nicely.

The resulting soup recipe originally came about at the height of broad bean season and was a hit at a birthday dinner I put on not long ago.  But it was a new and improved version of the recipe debuted at this weekend's dinner party, which was greatly improved through the addition of some Swiss Brown mushrooms.  I served it in a few of my (formerly) unused and neglected ramekins with a small crouton with a smear of duck pate on the side.

Truffled broad bean and mushroom soup

- 1 1/2 cups broad beans (taken out of the pods so they look like Jack's giant beans)
- 4 cups vegetable stock (tetra packs are just fine)
- 1 large spring/new onion (or a brown onion but the spring onions are sweeter)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (Swiss Brown if you have them, but no worries if not)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and chives
- 2 tablespoons butter (I love salted, but whatever floats your boat)
- 1 tablespoon truffle sauce (see picture below)
- 1/2 cup white wine
-  salt to taste

This stuff is the secret ingredient for this soup.  It's an okay cream of broad bean soup without it, but with the truffle sauce, this is amazingly good.  You can get this "special sauce" - which I think of as a mushroom-and-truffle mush - from Essential Ingredient.  Alternatively, just drizzle in some truffle oil just before serving this tasty dish.

So, to start.  Throw your broad beans, whether frozen or fresh, into a saucepan of boiling water and leave them there until they start to look "pruney" like your fingers after a long bath.  Drain them in a colander and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and make them easier to pull out of their bitter outer skin.  Put on a nice movie or a TV show where you can see it (this is a bit of a boring task) and then pull the inner, sweet green beans out of the darker, greyish shell.  Throw away the outer shells and get working on the base of the soup.

Dice your onion (onions plural if they are smaller) and garlic - I really like the freshly harvested "spring" onions that are on sale at the markets at the moment.  These are the ones that haven't dried out in storage and come attached to their green stalks (which you can happily chop up and add along with the juice, fresh onion).  Now, melt your butter in the bottom of a large saucepan and then throw the onion and garlic in to soften.  When they start to look translucent - but before they start browning - pop in your sliced mushrooms and stir while all the ingredients cook down and the mushrooms start to shrink a little bit.   Add your broad beans until warmed through and, finally, your chopped herbs.   Throw in the white wine on top and stir while it steams and bubbles and then settles down into an even simmer.

Pour your stock on top and let this base simmer until it has reduced by about a third.  At this point, allow the soup to cool a little and then blend it with a Bamix (stick blender) until it is smooth and creamy.  Then, when you are ready to serve, heat up again and add your cream, the truffle mush (ahem, sauce) and salt to taste (truffle salt, if you have it.  I'm not joking, this stuff is the bomb).  Serve immediately.

The recipe as described serves 8 if the portion size is small (a small coffee cup-sized portion) or 4 for a more substantial starter.   If you have a ravenous appetite after a hard day slaving over broad beans at the organic vegetable patch, then I would suggest this would serve 2 with thick slices of crusty bread on the side.


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