Cruise Recipe: Comfort Food Gets the Gourmet Treatment
Sure, we all know that there are plenty of dining options on the top cruise line’s ships, but sometimes there’s a dish that just stands out. We asked the chef on the Crystal Serenity to share his secret formula for one of the best soups we’ve ever tasted, and perfect for when the weather turns blustery. www.crystalcruises.com —Vivian Vassos
CREAM OF FOREST MUSHROOM SOUP
Mushrooms are the subtle treasures of the forest, emerging from the moist earth in a dazzling variety of flavours and textures: nutty, earthy tastes and delicate earth tones, ridged, ruffled, pitted and smooth. We use a rich cream sauce to accentuate the full, distinct flavours of the porcini, portabellas and morels, then serve in a fragrant bread cup still warm from the oven. Delicious!
Nutty, mild and rich, this soup requires a wine that is reflective of its character. The ship’s cellar choice, the Terruzzi e Puthod Vernaccia from San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy, mirrors the mild mushroom flavours with elegant fruit and a hint of oak. The Emilio Lustau Amontillado Sherry from the Jerez region of Spain has a nutty flavour that underscores its dry, lean character and picks up on the soup’s rounder aspects. And finally, the Byron Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, California, has the red-fruited, earth-laden succulence that mushrooms seem to have been created for.
CHEF’S NOTES: Crystal Cruises serves this soup in oregano bread cups. Any plain or flavoured bread loaf may be substituted, but this soup is also delicious simply served in shallow soup bowls.
PREPARATION: If using dried morels, wash the caps and soak them in warm water to cover for 10 minutes. Remove the stems and discard them. Cut small morels in half and large ones into 3 or 4 pieces.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and sauté all the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the wine, and cook to reduce the liquid by half. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer the soup for about 25 minutes. In a blender or food processor, puree half the soup until very smooth. Return the puree to the pan. Stir in the parsley, thyme, oregano, and basil and cook for about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm.
TO SERVE: Preheat the oven to 200 F. Cut off the top of each bread loaf. With a large spoon, remove the soft inner part of the bread. Place the loaves on a baking pan and warm in the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the warm bread loaves from the oven and pour the hot soup into the bread cups. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs and serve.
1 ounce dried morels, or 2 ounces fresh morels
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup Portobello mushroom, finely sliced
2 ounces white mushrooms
3 ounces fresh porcini mushrooms, finely sliced
3 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & freshly ground white pepper
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Leaves from 1 fresh thyme sprig minced
Leaves from 1 fresh oregano sprig, minced
2 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
Four 6-inch round bread loaves
Fresh rosemary sprigs