(Theguardian) – A slug of chipotle oil takes this vegetable soup up a warming notch or two
In this age of sexy street food and fast living, we sometimes forget the pleasures to be found in a bowl of soup. In Mexico, however, where the food culture is ancient, soups are still celebrated and found on almost every restaurant menu, from thick, vegetable-based ones fragrant with wild herbs or humming with tender pulses, to beautiful clear broths made by simmering bones for many hours to extract every ounce of goodness. Twelve years ago, I helped put together a book of soup recipes to raise funds for Centrepoint and other homelessness charities. It was called Soup Kitchen, featured recipes from just about every chef you could think of and ended up selling more than 100,000 copies.
I was thinking about the book while working on this week’s recipe, which is both simple and tasty. The chickens at my local farmers’ market come with giblets attached (yay), which make excellent stock, but this dish also works with vegetable stock or even water. The gently earthy, velvety soup is pepped up by a slug of smoky chilli oil to give it cojones – and to warm us in this colder weather.
Potato, leek and wild mushroom soup with chipotle oil and creme fraiche
Use dried chipotle chillies for the oil, or jarred chipotles en adobo (which are already rehydrated), or indeed any dried red chilli. The creme fraiche supplies a lovely, acidic backdrop to the heat. Serves six.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek, washed, cut in half lengthways, then into thin half-moons
1 celery stick
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
600g maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
15g dried porcini, soaked in 200ml boiling water
250g mixed wild mushrooms (girolles, oysters, chanterelles, trompettes de mort), cleaned and roughly chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
1.25 litres chicken or vegetable stock
75ml creme fraiche (or single cream)
For the chipotle oil
2 dried chipotle chillies
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
300ml olive oil
Make the oil first. Tear open and deseed the chillies (wear rubber gloves or wash your hands afterwards). Heat a small frying pan and, when hot, toast the chillies for 20-30 seconds a side, then tip into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 15 minutes (or use two tablespoons of chipotles en adobo from a jar, and skip this stage).
While the chillies are soaking, get on with the veg. Put half the butter and the oil in a casserole, add the leek, celery, garlic and a few pinches of salt, sweat gently over a medium-high heat for five minutes, then stir in the thyme, bay and potatoes. Strain the soaked porcini, reserving the liquor, then finely chop the mushrooms and add to the pot with 100ml of the liquor. Cover and leave to bubble gently for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan on a high flame, add the remaining butter and, once it’s sizzling, stir-fry all the fresh mushrooms for three to four minutes, until coloured and soft. Tip two-thirds of the mushrooms into the pot (you’ll use the rest to garnish) and pour in the stock. Season the soup, simmer for 20 minutes, then blitz smooth with a hand blender (if you prefer a more rustic soup, leave it a bit on the chunky side).
Once the chillies are soft, drain them and put in the small bowl of a food processor with the garlic and half a teaspoon of sea salt. Blitz to a paste, then, with the motor running, slowly add the oil until incorporated. Transfer to a glass jar and seal – the oil will keep for a month or two.
Taste the soup for seasoning, then spoon into warmed bowls. Top each portion with a teaspoon of cream, scatter over the reserved mushrooms, add a trickle of chilli oil and serve.