This rich and creamy soup — sans cream — gets a boost from a combination of roasted garlic, mushroom and nuts. Roasted, salted Spanish Marcona almonds or pecans work best for this recipe, but try walnuts or another favorite, or omit altogether if nut-averse.
Puréed soups are a great way to sneak in extra veg, so throw in whatever you might have on hand that pairs well with mushrooms, including potato, celery root, Jerusalem artichoke or cauliflower. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of garlic called for; roasting the bulbs yields creamy, rich cloves with a hint of sweetness. Everything then gets whizzed up in a high-speed blender or with an immersion blender until velvety smooth. Keep tasting as you blend and feel free to add a bit of miso or maybe some heat from dried or fresh chiles.
A crowning garnish of browned butter mushroom slices elevates it a bit. For some textural contrast, consider topping with toasted nuts, pumpkin seeds, croutons or olive tapenade. While it won’t win any beauty prizes, this bowl of soup definitely gets an honorable mention in the categories of comfort and healthful eats.
Roasted garlic mushroom soup
Makes about 4 to 6 servings
2 whole medium heads garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces veg, such as red or gold potato, cauliflower, or Jerusalem artichoke
2 pounds button (cremini) mushrooms, trimmed; divided
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small yellow or white onion (or leek)
1 cup pecans, Marcona almonds, or walnuts
1/3 cup dried porcini, dried shiitake, or dried morel mushrooms (optional)
1 quart chicken stock or broth
Optional additions: 1 teaspoon yellow or white miso; pinch chile flakes; freshly-grated nutmeg
Optional garnishes: croutons, flake salt, olive oil, fresh herbs, dried chile flakes, black olive tapenade
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel most of the outer layer of paper from the garlic bulb and discard. Cut top (1/4-inch) off the bulb, leaving head intact. Place trimmed bulbs cut-side up on aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil. Seal foil over garlic and place on a large baking sheet. Cut potato into 1-inch cubes (or cauliflower into florets) and place on baking sheet (with the wrapped garlic) and drizzle with olive oil; season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast garlic and potato — or other veg — for 25 minutes.
2. While vegetables are roasting, set aside three to four mushrooms for garnish. Trim remaining mushrooms and, if on larger side, cut in half. Pat mushrooms dry of any liquid if damp. Add mushroom halves to baking sheet with garlic and potato; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast garlic, potatoes, and mushrooms together for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove baking sheet and set aside until garlic is cool enough to handle. Remove roasted garlic cloves from paper and set aside.
3. Heat one tablespoon butter in a large pot set over medium heat; add onion slices and pecans (or Marcona almonds or walnuts) and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Increase heat. Add roasted mushrooms and vegetables, dried mushrooms (if using), roasted garlic cloves and chicken broth; bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt or pepper and any optional ingredients, if using. Let cool slightly and, very carefully, scoop into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and no chunks are left. You can also purée using a hand-held immersion blender; carefully blend until smooth. It’s not pretty at this point, but the garnishes will bring it all together.
Pour puréed soup back into pot over low heat; add a bit more broth if you prefer a thinner soup; taste and adjust seasoning. For garnish, pat reserved whole mushrooms and slice very thinly. Heat remaining one tablespoon butter (add up to one more tablespoon, as needed) in a large pan set over medium-high heat. When butter starts to foam, add mushroom slices in a single layer and let crisp and get golden brown without disturbing. Turn and brown other side. If browning too quickly, reduce heat slightly. Serve soup garnished with browned butter mushrooms, some flake salt, and a drizzle of olive oil or any other preferred garnishes.