Preparation time: 45 minutes
Indulge in a dish that celebrates the earthy and natural flavor of the mushrooms. Mushroom hunting is a favorite fall activity in many European countries. The best “hunting grounds” are a well-kept secret and passed from generation to generation.
In the US, a substitute comes to mind: baby Portobello mushrooms, also known as creminis, babybella and chestnut mushrooms. They are the mature version of your common white button mushroom. So, a rule of thumb: The lighter the color, the less flavored it is. Try to find mushrooms with an intense brown color. You will be rewarded with a meatier taste and a soup with a beautiful maroon color.
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 cups thinly sliced onions
- 3 garlic cloves finely minced
- 4 cups (1 liter) beef stock, a good quality canned one can be used
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, optional
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and onions. Sautee, stirring now and then for 30 minutes, or until onions and fennel have nice caramel color. Watch it closely, eventually reducing the heat, as onions might start burning on the edges. You do not want this to happen. Caramelization is a slower process. When onions are soft, add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 2-3 minutes longer.
Add mushrooms and saute them until they have obtained a deeper brown color, about 5 minutes longer. Add the white wine and reduce it slightly. Add beef stock and stir to mingle the flavors. Cook it for 5 minutes longer. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, if desired. Taste for salt and pepper.
Garnish with fennel fronds and a cheesy cheddar toast.