Have you ever had a great idea and patted yourself on the back…a little too soon? One of my son’s favorite soups is French onion. I wanted to use that recipe, but with something other than onion. I have nothing against onions. I love them, actually. But, sometimes, it’s nice to change things up. There’s been so much written recently about the nutritional benefits of mushrooms. Mushrooms, even the basic white button variety, can activate our body’s immune system. Another bonus…they are a good source of Vitamin D, also good for your immune system. And really…who doesn’t love that deep, earthy flavor of mushrooms sautéed to a golden brown? Have them bathing in a rich broth and top them with toasty bread bubbling with cheese and how can that be bad? With that image, I chuckled to myself, amazed at my own genius! Well, go ahead and google “French Mushroom Soup.” Sigh. I’m not so brilliant after all.
OK, so this may not be the only version of French Mushroom Soup out there, but this is truly my own. There really isn’t a standard recipe. Some had cream, others didn’t. Some were pureed, others brothy. My version is made with a wonderful broth and does not use cream, but I do use butter. It really adds a lot to the soup. It helps to brown the mushrooms and gives the broth a nutty richness. If you don’t want to use butter, go ahead and use olive oil and to lighten things up even more, use a low fat Swiss cheese instead of the Gruyere.
French Mushroom Soup with Gruyere Toasts
3 tablespoons butter
10 ounce package white button mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed and sliced
10 ounce package baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed and sliced
1 large leek, rinsed and sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 – 4 sprigs fresh thyme, bundled and tied (keep a bit of fresh leaves aside for garnish if you’d like)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 small baguette, sliced and toasted (day old bread is best)
about 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter then add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms are browned. This will take time and the mushrooms will release a lot of their moisture before any browning will even begin. Once all of the liquid is reduced and the bottom of the pot dries out, add the leek and the onion. The mushrooms will start to become golden. Get them as brown as you can. This will just make the soup even more delicious. Once the onions begin to brown, add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the flour and stir to coat. Continue cooking for one more minute then add the wine. Raise the heat to high and simmer the wine for a minute or two. Add the broth, bay leaf and thyme bundle. Bring the soup to a boil and immediately reduce to low to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
When the soup is done simmering, add the parsley and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if it needs it.
Preheat your broiler to 500 degrees with the top rack in its highest position.
On a baking sheet, line up oven safe bowls. Ladle the soup into each bowl. Top with the toasted baguette slices and some Gruyere. Place the baking sheet carefully on the top rack and broil for several minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to get golden.
Remove the baking sheet and with pot holders, carefully move each bowl onto a heat safe dish. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.
- To keep this vegan, use olive oil instead of butter and use vegan cheese shreds instead of the Gruyere.
- I combine the two varieties of mushrooms, but mix it up and use whatever mushrooms you like.
- Leeks can be really dirty and gritty. To clean the leek, slice it in half long ways. Under running water, open up the leaves and rinse any grit with each half, then slice.