Rutabaga & Mushroom Soup

I first encountered this fine winter soup at the Essene Cafe, where it was love at first taste. I “reverse engineered” it in my own kitchen so I could have it whenever I wanted.

1 (preferably unwaxed) rutabaga, peeled and cubed
several handfuls of fresh mushrooms, any kind will do
1 tablespoon (or more) butter
onion and/or shallots, minced
splash of white wine (optional)
3 cups chicken or vegatable broth, more or less
enough milk or cream to thin to desired consistency
nutmeg or mace for garnishing at the end

Remove grit from mushrooms with a paper towel or brush, then slice thickly. If you use shiitake, remove the inedible stems and simmer them with the broth to get a nice mushroomy flavor.

Melt butter and saute the mushroom slices till they have given off their juice and are beginning to brown. Set aside in a bowl. In the now-empty mushroom pan, sauté the minced onions/shallot mix, adding a bit more butter if necessary. When the onions are cooked and beginning to brown around the edges, add a splash of white wine (optional) and let it quickly evaporate, then transfer to a soup pot and add the broth. Stir in the diced rutabaga and simmer till very tender, adding more broth along the way if necessary. When ready to serve, either mash the rutabaga (for a lumpy, more peasant style) or run through a blender (for creamy European-style first course type soup). Return everything to soup pot, add reserved mushrooms and enough milk or cream to thin to desired consistency and creaminess. Heat but do not allow to boil, then serve garnished with fresh grated nutmeg or mace.

WARNING: All measurements are estimates and not meant to be taken too seriously. Feel free to add a few parsnips or a small potato to the rutabagas if your rutabaga is small. You can make a wonderful “on the fly” veggie broth by simmering the onion and shallot peelings, mushroom trimmings, and rutabaga peels plus celery or parsley or perhaps a stray carrot.

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