Ok, I know I’ve claimed to have lived off of PB&J’s and poached eggs in college. But that wasn’t entirely true. There was a third and important food group: soup. Soup is one of the best things ever invented. Stone Soup (Ann McGovern’s version) was one of my favorite childhood books. You can make soup out of almost anything, really, adding any vegetables or meats or pastas you want to use up. As long as you have some onions, water and salt, you’re golden.
So I decided to try my hand at a mushroom broth with pasta. I got the idea from an old Gourmet Magazine cookbook that I found collecting dust at a consignment shop last week. I took pity on the poor thing and bought it. The Gourmet mushroom soup asked the reader to make homemade mushroom tortellini as the “pasta” element. But I didn’t have time for that jazz so I just picked up some beef ravioli at the store instead.
The broth is pretty simple. Pick off the stems of the mushrooms and throw them in a pot with a few roughly chopped carrots and onions. Pour in cold water and flavor it with salt, peppercorns and a spring of rosemary. Allow this to simmer for an hour (simmer—don’t let it boil!).
While this happens, peel and finely dice two carrots. Set this aside.
Then, take the tops of your mushrooms (now stemless) and thinly slice them. Heat a frying pan until it’s smoking hot and pour in a drop of non-burning-oil like canola or grapeseed (not olive oil). Throw in a handful of mushrooms so that you have only one layer coating the bottom of the pan. Allow them to sizzle and brown up for 30 seconds before stirring them. They don’t take long to cook. Season with salt, and then remove the first batch from the heat. Repeat this until all your mushrooms are cooked!
You want to do batches of mushrooms because you want them to sear and brown. If you throw in all of them at once, they’ll release a lot of moisture and you’ll end up with a frying pan full of water and some soggy mushrooms. The flavor is worth the extra steps!
After an hour, strain the mushroom stock, saving the liquid and discarding the soggy vegetables/herbs. Pour the stock into a clean pan with the beef stock and carrots. The carrots will cook in the hot liquid. Put in your mushrooms and ravioli (or tortellini) just before you’re ready to serve. I did about 3 raviolis per portion. The pasta will cook in the hot broth too.
After tasting it all together, I found that the broth needed another ¼ teaspoon of salt—taste yours before you add! When your raviolis are cooked and the carrots are tender, serve away!
For the stock:
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 carrots, cut into thirds
- The stems of 1 ¼ – 1 ½ pounds of crimini mushrooms
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups cold water
For the soup:
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 ¼ – 1 ½ pounds crimini mushroom heads, sliced and sautéed
- 2 cups beef stock
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Beef ravioli or tortellini