Santa Fe is fortunate to have a great lunch spot named the Backstreet Bistro. It is owned by a transplanted New Yorker, and the specialties of the house are an ever-changing array of delicious and unusual soups. For those reasons, it is not surprising that the owner is likened to the infamous “Soup Nazi” who shouted, “No soup for you!” on the Jerry Seinfeld show of the 1990s. That is a totally unfair comparison, because the owner, Dave, is a very nice man who is loved by his staff and the regulars. He does run a tight ship, and when he is working the floor – which is to say every day – he conveys a friendly but no-nonsense demeanor. One of his rules is no credit cards; cash or check only.
Hungarian mushroom soup never seems to leave the menu. I am sure the reason for that is that customers insist on it being there. It is that delicious. I’m not sure where Dave got his recipe, but there is a very good one in the Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley). That and the Vita-Mix recipe book served as the sources for a version of the soup that I whipped up with my new Vita-Mix. My soup is not vegetarian like Katzen’s, and it is not as good as Dave’s, but it is still pretty tasty. Be warned, though, the recipe makes a lot of soup.
Hungarian Mushroom Soup a la Vita-Mix
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 cups celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups yellow onions, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 garlic clove
- 8 cups beef stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- bouquet garni (3 sprigs parsley, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf tied in cheesecloth)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried dill + more for garnish (fresh is better if you have it, just triple the amount)
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
- ¾ cup sour cream + more for garnish
- Set aside 1 cup of mushrooms to be sliced and added later. Quarter the remaining mushrooms to be chopped.
- By cupfuls, chop the quartered mushrooms in the Vita-Mix with speed set at Variable, 3, pulsing 10 times.
- In a soup pot sauté the chopped mushrooms in 4 tablespoons of the butter.
- Processing 1 cup at a time, chop the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic with Vita-Mix settings on Variable, 3. Chop each batch for 10 seconds.
- Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes longer.
- Stir in the beef stock, tomato paste, and bouquet garni. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sauté the remaining cup of sliced mushrooms in the remaining butter. Set aside for final assembly.
- Remove the bouquet garni and stir in the sautéed mushrooms, dill, lemon juice, paprika, and sour cream. Heat gently. Do not boil or the sour cream may curdle.
- Serve while warm, garnished with more sour cream and dill.