It’s been a while since my last post and I truly missed my blog and my dear readers. My new kitchen is finally finished; summer vacations are behind us, so I can slowly come back to my real life with cooking, photographing and sharing recipes. My first recipe after a long break is wild mushroom soup, creamy and earthy, just the way it should be. Please scroll down for the recipe, because first, I have shared with you some impressions from my last voyage.
The Food Blog Forum this year took place in a gorgeous town of Asheville, North Carolina. I have never been there before and I am glad that we made a decision to take a long drive to attend this conference. It was three days of learning and sharing experience, meeting new people and tasting food (lots and lots of delicious food). I loved every minute of it; this was the best one yet!
The opening welcome party has been provided by Doubletree Asheville-Biltmore on the beautiful garden terrace. We enjoyed unique appetizers with peach and watermelon moonshine cocktails (featuring local artisan distiller Troy & Sons). We left with goodie bags from Foodtopia Asheville.
Next day we have gathered at Biltmore Lionscrest grand ballroom to learn from the best people in business – how to create your tribe (Jaden & Scott), how to write with publications, learned about food photography and styling (Todd & Diane), work with brands (KitchenAid, OXO) and much more. I am very thankful for every speech and every advice. Thank you!
Our behind-the-scenes tour of Biltmore House took place during second half of the day. The tour focused on culinary traditions at the turn of the century. We had a chance visit not only upstairs of the Estate but downstairs also, where many servants cooked food day after day in “good old times”.
For more photos of The Biltmore Estate, please visit my Flickr album.
The finale of the day culminated in sophisticated evening reception with a menu inspired by Biltmore’s production garden (with free-range beef, wine from a 94-acre vineyard and local ingredients).
Stay tuned for the part two of my impressions from the amazing Food Blog Forum.
Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms ( I used baby portobello mushrooms)
- 2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 5 cups vegetable stock or water ( if you are not vegetarian, add meat stock, it helps to strengthen the earthy flavor)
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Put the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl, add the hot water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out of the liquid and squeeze to remove as much of the soaking liquid as possible. Strain all the liquid and reserve to use later. Finely chop the mushrooms.
Heat the oil and butter in a large pan until foaming. Add the onion, garlic and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened but not colored.
Chop or thinly slice the fresh mushrooms and add to the pan. Stir over a medium heat for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Pour in the stock or water and bring to the boil. Add the shiitake, soaking liquid, thyme, paprika, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat, half-cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour about three-quarters of the soup into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return to the soup remaining in the pan, stir in the heavy cream and heat through. Check the consistency, adding more stock or water if the soup is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, garnished with springs of fresh thyme.
A good mushroom soup makes the most of the subtle and sometimes rather elusive flavor of mushrooms. White mushrooms can be used here for their pale color; shiitake and portobello mushrooms give a fuller flavor but turn the soup light-brown.