West Town Tavern Wild Mushroom Chowder

From Susan Goss

Serves 6

Here is is: the long-awaited wild mushroom chowder. Sadly, I still haven’t been able to wangle the recipe for the blue-cheese croutons out of her. But if and when Chef Susan gives up that secret, rest assured you’ll be the first to know See below for blue cheese croutons specs — because while this soup is sublimely rich and shroomy, the crunchy, funky croutons really kicked it to somewhere I’d certainly never been before.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped, about 2 cups
4 cups chopped mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster and the like)
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced small
2 1/3 cups potato, peeled, and diced small
1 tablespoon garlic, peeled, smashed, minced, about 3 cloves
½ cup dry sherry
5 1/3 cups water or vegetable stock
2 large  bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon bottled hot sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves

Preparation

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onion until tender and browned, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cover the pan and lower the heat. Steam the mushrooms for 5 minutes or until they begin to give up their juices. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium and sauté the mushrooms until they are tender, another 7-10 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and garlic and stir well. Add the sherry and bring to a boil. Boil until sherry reduces to a glaze, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the water. Tie the bay leaves and thyme sprigs together and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Add the cream and return the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the cream is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes more. Season the soup with salt and pepper and stir in the Worcestershire, hot sauce and minced thyme.

If desired, transfer one cup of soup to a blender and puree. Return puree to the saucepan and stir well.

EDITED TO ADD!
Blue Cheese Croutons
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups French bread, cubed, about 1”x1”

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and cheese and melt, stirring occasionally until smooth. Pour butter mixture over bread cubes and toss gently to mix.

Spread bread cubes onto a cookie sheet and separate as much as possible. Scrape any remaining buttermixture over cubes.

Bake bread cubes in the oven 7 minutes. Turn gently with a spatula and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 5 more minutes. Let croutons cool completely before using.

Store croutons covered at room temperature up to 24 hours.

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