OMG so remember I went to a "Wild About Oregon Mushrooms" cooking class a couple of weeks ago?
Well, it was delicious. As expected. And I got some great tips and interesting facts about mushrooms. And delicious recipes, all of which I hope to make on my own and post here.
The teacher was the head chef and owner of a cute little local Eugene restaurant called Three Square Cafe. (I'd link to their website if they had one.) He was joined by a very knowledgeable guy from MycoLogical Natural Products of Eugene. They are awesome. They supply all the mushrooms to markets and restaurants in this area, as well as throughout and outside of Oregon. What is amazing is that they source most of their mushrooms from the wild; few of their mushrooms are cultivated.
First, a couple of fun facts:
Fall is Chanterelle season. And oh is it ever, here in Oregon! Chanterelles are popping up all over. Friends have gone out foraging and come back with 5-lb buckets full! Mmm mmm mmmm.
Did you know chanterelles need a relationship with a tree to grow? And the best circumstances for their successful growth is old trees -- so Oregon's old-growth forests are KEY to their proliferation in Oregon. So if you can't care about protecting old-growth forests for the many reasons that exist, then please -- care about them FOR THE CHANTERELLES!
The smaller a chanterelle mushroom, the creamier and more flavorful it will be.
Did you know shiitake mushrooms have cancer-fighting properties?
Now, onto the recipe. A word of warning: this soup is FREAKING DELICIOUS. And very rich. You might become a little addicted to it. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Three Square Cafe's Butternut Squash & Chanterelle Bisque
This insanely delicious and autumnal soup would be a GREAT Thanksgiving dish. It can be made up to a day in advance. On the day of serving, warm it and then you can hold the soup in a 140F oven, and it will wait til serving time. It is also very pretty, and would be a great crowd-pleaser -- it's very impressive.
1 3lb. butternut squash
1 cup yellow onions, diced very small
1/2 cup carrots, diced very small
1/2 cup sweet potatoes, diced very small
3 cloves garlic (I used 6, because we're crazy garlic fiends), smashed and then roughly chopped
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, chopped (use the whole thing, stem included!)
2 tbsp. honey
2 cups good quality chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream (DO NOT forego the cream or replace with half-and-half. It is simply not the same.)
1 tbsp. rosemary (from your garden or front porch planter, if possible!)
1 tsp. cinnamon (I halved this)
2 tbsp. brown sugar (I used just 1 tbsp.)
Split (length-wise) and de-seed the butternut squash, then brush the innards with olive oil. Roast at 375F for 1 hour or until flesh is soft. Remove flesh with spoon and discard the rest.
Saute onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots in a saucepan with not too much olive oil. Let the pan get nice and hot before adding them. Then let them really get translucent before adding anything to them.
Add chanterelles and rosemary to mix, cook until tender.
Add garlic and honey, stir.
Add stock, then cream and milk. Stir to combine and take a whiff of the heavenly scents you've got going on.
Add cinnamon and brown sugar, then add squash.
At this point, you can either puree in a Cuisinart or blender, OR do what I did when I realized my hand-held blender went on the fritz and died: use your potato masher to mash and stir, mash and stir. This actually wasn't a pain at all, and I would do it again. Totally worked.
Simmer on low for 10-15 more minutes to let the flavors meld.