Porcini Faro Soup
We have been looking for fresh porcini mushrooms here in Umbria since the end of September with no luck, so I have been making do with frozen. They have worked out just fine, but I just wanted to enjoy that special smell of fresh porcini once again. Then, on a spur of the moment trip to the mall in Perugia last week, my husband phones me at home to tell me they have one kilo cases of fresh porcini and do I want one. Of course I say, “One? Grab two!” Quite honestly, I’d prefer a pound of fresh porcini over a dozen roses any day of the week! I was thrilled to finally get my hands on fresh porcini and even though they were smaller than ones I have bought in Tuscany in the past, they still had that rich, earthy smell that is just so “porcini”! Okay flash forward, and after I have taken 20 or 30 photos of my lovely fresh porcini I needed to come up with a few recipes that will really let these lovely mushrooms shine.
I made one dish of Pasta Norcina which consists of a pasta sauce of cream, porcini and sausages, and we then enjoyed the porcini slow roasted with just olive oil, and garlic which is one of my all time favorite ways to cook mushrooms. That took care of some of them but I still had lots left. It is quite cool and rainy here in Umbria right now, so I wanted to come up with a soup recipe that would really showcase my porcini. I looked online and through a few cookbooks for inspiration, but almost all the mushroom soup recipes were cream based ones where the mushrooms were pureed. I wanted a healthy soup with nice big chunks of porcini in it so I finally just headed to the kitchen to come up with a soup on my own. I decided I also needed a starch or grain of some sort to add some additional heartiness to the soup, and since I already had faro soaking in the refrigerator, I decided it’s earthy flavor would pair well with the porcini. The rest of the ingredients soon fell into place, and this soup was born. I loved the simplicity of this soup that was all about the mushrooms, and we made a meal of it with some crusty Italian bread and a big mixed vegetable salad.
I do understand that porcini mushrooms are all but impossible to find outside of Italy, so I added some dried porcini into the recipe to give the soup that special rich flavor that only porcini mushrooms have. In place of porcini, I would use either portobello or cremini mushrooms, both which I feel have more flavor than the common button mushroom. If you are indeed lucky enough to find fresh porcini, simply exclude the added dried porcini.
by Deborah Mele
1 Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Chopped
2 Carrots, Chopped
3 Cloves Of Garlic, Peeled And Minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Pound Fresh Mushrooms (Porcini, Portobello, or Cremini) Cleaned And Coarsely Chopped
4 to 5 Cups Vegetable Or Chicken Broth
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Cup Chopped Tomatoes (Fresh or Canned)
1 Cup Faro (Or Barely)
Salt & Pepper
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/3 Cup Fresh Chopped Parsley
To Serve: (Suggested Options)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cracked Black Pepper
Grated Pecorino Cheese
Soak the dried porcini in one cup of warm water for 20 minutes. Drain, strain and reserve the liquid and finely chop the porcini. In a heavy soup pot heat the olive oil and then cook the onions, carrots and mushrooms until softened over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two. Add the chopped dried porcini, 4 cups of broth, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and faro. Add also the strained liquid used to rehydrate the dried porcini. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Continue to cook over low heat until the faro (or barely) is tender to the bite, about 30 minutes, adding additional broth as needed once the faro begins to swell. Add the chopped parsley and taste, adjusting seasonings if needed.
Serve soup very warm but not steaming hot for the best flavor topped with your choice of the suggested toppings.