This Caramelized Leek and Mushroom Soup is very light and delicate.
The recipe is from the LCBO's Holiday 2015 issue. I served it as the second course in a Holiday Wine Pairing Dinner. Mushroom soups can be heavy if they are creamed or very earthy depending on the type of mushrooms used. It was perfect for this menu since we served several courses.
This soup is amazing considering there are really no fancy ingredients going on here. My guests were surprised that I had used simple white mushroom slices. If you are a real mushroom aficionado you could use more exotic mushrooms but you don't have to. Just don't skimp on the time to caramelize the leeks and mushrooms since that step is what produces such outstanding flavour from such simple ingredients. And don't skip the croutons!
It is also very versatile...you can vary the spirit you add and choose the stock you prefer. You can make it a day or 2 ahead which is handy when it is part of a big meal. I made it with sherry and served a glass of the same sherry with it during the meal. I used a Manzanilla sherry which I thought at the time was a bit thin on the palate. However, the sherry with the caramelized leeks and mushrooms left a pleasant nutty, caramel aftertaste.
For the cheese croutons I had a great stroke of luck in that I had a small piece of Lankaaster Extra Aged Gouda style cheese in my fridge. It was perfect to give the croutons a salty, sharp, creamy flavour. Glengarry Fine Cheese is an artisinal cheese-making operation in Eastern Ontario just North of Lancaster, Ontario. They make the cheese on-site and a visit and a tasting are definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Their web-site lists many Canadian and International awards particularly for the Lankaaster Aged cheeses and their Celtic Blue as well as shops that carry their cheeses across Ontario.
- 2 Tbsps butter
- 3 leeks white and light green parts, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar packed
- 4 cups mushrooms sliced, white or cremini
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
- ¼ tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbsps brandy, cognac or sherry (I used Sherry)
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)
- 2 cups baguette cut into ¼ slices
- 2 Tbsps butter melted
- ½ cup sharp, hard cheese finely shredded (I used Lankaaster Extra Aged Gouda Style)
- Melt butter in big pot over medium heat. Saute leeks and sugar about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook about 30 minutes. Stir often to avoid burning. Leeks should be golden brown.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms, thyme and salt & pepper. Cook about 10 minutes until mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown.
- Stir in brandy (or spirit of choice) and cook until brandy is evaporated. Add the stock and stir up all those delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer about 20 minutes. Serve with Croutons.
- Note: You can make this ahead and cool and store in fridge for up to 2 days. Just reheat before serving.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Drizzle bread cubes with melted butter in a bowl. Toss to coat. Sprinkle in the cheese and toss again to distribute.
- Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for about 8 minutes until gold and crispy. Watch they don't burn.
- Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper. Garnish soup bowls with croutons just before serving.