Wonderland Mushroom Soup
“One side will make you grow taller… …and the other side will make you grow shorter.”
– Alice in Wonderland, 1951
With my new immersion blender and all these fall veggies, I can’t help making pureed soups. They’re just so good. Even mushrooms, which I normally really dislike (it’s a texture thing), are delicious with a bunch of other beautiful in-season goodies like parsnips and baked garlic.
2 8-oz packages sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas), cleaned thoroughly
4 medium-large parsnips, peeled
2 large leeks, coarsely chopped (bulbs only)
1 shallot (2 pieces), finely chopped
1 cayenne pepper, halved/seeded/finely chopped
1 head garlic
6 cups (48 oz) chicken or vegetable stock
3.5 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
Pre-heat the oven to 400*F. Wrap a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with non-stick spray or olive oil.
Slice parsnips into 1/2″ circles, cutting the larger pieces into quarters, and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. From the whole head of garlic, peel away the outer layer of “skin” and slice a bit off the top so you can see a bit into each clove. Wrap the garlic into a separate square of foil, cover with about 1.5 tbsp of olive oil, and twist the foil closed. Bake the parsnip and garlic together for about 25 minutes – the parsnip should be soft and lightly browned, but the garlic may need an additional 10 minutes or so. When the garlic is soft (test with a fork), carefully remove the cloves from the bulb.
While the parsnips and garlic are roasting, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large stock pot on medium-high heat. Add the leeks, shallot, and pepper to the pot stirring occasional for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and chicken stock, stirring well. Add the parsnip cubes and garlic and bring the soup to a boil. Lower to medium heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, garlic salt, and pepper – adjust to taste.
When all components of the soup are fork-tender and/or “smashable” (press a piece of parsnip against the side of the stock pot with a spoon), remove from heat and allow to cool for about five minutes. Lower the immersion blender into the soup and blend on high until uniformly smooth. (If using blender or food processor, blend in batches until smooth, remove to another pot. and heat for another 5 minutes on the stove to marry all the components.) Serve immediately.