The winter weather and snow arrived in Chicago at the beginning of January. On cold evenings, I like to serve wild mushroom soup as a healthy and delicious dinner with a simple salad of Little Gem lettuce. I prepare this soup with an assortment of mushrooms including cremini, trumpet royale, alba clamshell, velvet pioppini, and maitake frondosa. All of these mushrooms are available at Whole Foods.
Wild Mushroom Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 32 ounces mixed fresh wild mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 6 cups mushroom stock
- kosher salt
- black pepper, freshly ground
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook stirring often. After 2-3 minutes, add the red onion and thyme to the pot. Season the mushrooms, red onion, and thyme with salt and pepper. The mushrooms will release moisture as they cook. Continue to cook for 20 minutes until most of the moisture evaporates. Add the mushroom stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. When the mushroom soup has finished cooking, allow it to cool slightly. For thicker soup, blend half of the soup until smooth in a blender and return it to the pot with the unblended half. Return the soup to the heat and add salt and pepper to taste prior to serving.
The Little Gem lettuce looks like a smaller Romaine lettuce; it has a crisp texture and a slightly sweet flavor. I like to allow the flavor of this lettuce to shine. My favorite preparation is to separate the leaves by cutting off the bottom and drizzling with a red wine vinaigrette. The vinaigrette settles into the beautiful curves of the lettuce. I buy Little Gem lettuce at Eataly in Chicago. If you are unable to find Little Gem, you can substitute Romaine or Butter lettuce.
Little Gem Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
(adapted from Michael Psilakis‘ How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking)
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons shallots or red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper, coarsely ground
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4-6 heads of Little Gem lettuce
Combine the vinegar, mustard, shallots or onion, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small jar. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Place the lid on the jar and shake well just before dressing your salad. Separate the leaves of the lettuce by cutting the bottom of each head. Wash and dry the leaves and add to a large salad bowl. Drizzle the lettuce with the red wine vinaigrette.
Extra vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. Remove the vinaigrette from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to use.