Elixir of Portobello

The syrup is essential to reach the emotional highs that this soup creates, and the combination of other ingredients and seasonings brings out the special flavor of the portobello mushrooms.


Makes 12 cups, enough for 12 appetizers or 6 main-dish servings


2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic
1½ teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme's Ground Dried Chipotle Magic Chile
1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme's Ground Dried Cayenne Magic Chile
1 teaspoon Chef Paul Prudhomme's Ground Dried Guajillo Magic Chile
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 large onion, roasted (instructions below) and chopped
½ pound bacon, finely diced
2 pounds medium diced fresh portobello mushrooms, in all
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
¾ cup cane syrup (see NOTE)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups beef stock

How To Prepare

Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl to make the Seasoning Mix.

To roast the onion, if you have a gas range, simply place the onion right on the burner, in a high flame, and roast, turning with tongs, until the outer skin is charred all the way around. If your range is electric, you can roast in a preheated 500° oven. Plunge the roasted onion into ice water to stop the cooking, then rub off the black, charred skin under running water. It should slip right off, but if there are stubborn spots, just remove them with a sharp knife. Now chop the onion and set it aside.

Render the bacon in a 5-quart pot over high heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add 1 pound of the mushrooms, all the bell peppers, the celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the syrup, flour, and seasoning mix, and stir until the flour is completely absorbed. Stir in the stock and scrape the pot bottom thoroughly. Bring to a boil, add the remaining mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook at a brisk simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

NOTE: We used cane syrup the first several times we cooked this soup. Knowing that cane syrup may be hard to find in some parts of the country, and that some readers may want to try the recipe before they have a chance to find it, I wondered if it might work equally well with maple syrup. What a pleasant surprise! It's great with maple, but if this is your choice, use just ½ cup instead of the ¾ cup called for with cane syrup. And do use pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored pancake syrup.

Copyright© 1995 by Paul Prudhomme

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