Nothing says fall quite like root vegetables and soup. Try this earthy concoction of celery root and parsnips infused with porcini to ground you in the season as the leaves fall, the days get shorter, and we start to naturally turn inward and hibernate. The toasts on top are an extra, but an absolutely essential one in my books as they add texture, flavour, and substance.

For the soup:

a large handful of dried porcini mushrooms

1 cup white wine

1 cup water

3 tbsps olive oil

4 medium onions, sliced

3 large parsnips, cleaned and cubed

1 small celery root, peeled and cubed

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

6 cups veggie stock

a couple sprigs of thyme, destemmed

sea salt and pepper

For the toasts:

a handful of dried porcini mushrooms

a small bunch of parsley, destemmed

1 garlic clove, peeled

a small handful of roasted pecans

sea salt and pepper


Bring the wine and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat. Add the handful of dried porcini mushrooms and let sit until rehydrated.

Meanwhile, heat up olive oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and let simmer until soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Add cubed parsnips and celery root and sauté until parsnips are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add porcini with their soaking liquid, garlic, veggie stock, sprigs of thyme, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 40 minutes until vegetables are very soft and cooked right through.

While the soup cooks, prepare the topping for your toasts. Soak a handful of dried porcini in hot water. Once done, remove them from the water, squeeze out excess liquid and chop them with parsley, garlic, pecans, and a little sea salt and pepper.

When the soup is done, pureé in a food processor and return to the dutch oven, adjust seasoning. You can add the left-over porcini liquid from the toasts if you want to adjust the consistency as well. Toast some interesting bread and then cover liberally with your porcini, nut, garlic topping. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve the soup piping hot with the porcini toast floating on top.

mushroom soup

June 13, 2010

This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain‘s Les Halles Cookbook. Given the name you can probably guess that there isn’t too much that’s vegan about Anthony Bourdain and his slaughterhouse cookbook. But it is a highly entertaining cookbook given his irreverence, and there are a few gems in there that can easily be vegan-ized. This soup is one of them. Olive oil instead of butter; veggie stock instead of chicken stock; you’re good to go.

I’m going to quote his recipe in full with a few vegan translations. But before I do, one question – why take out the sprig of parsley? I’m a big fan of leaving it in there, along with other herbs like thyme (my favourite – in fact I think it almost makes the soup). Leaving them in there and just blending the whole schmozle together gives you better taste and you get the full medicinal benefit of those mini super-powered greens.

“This is ridiculously easy soup to make. It’s tasty and durable, and it gets even better overnight.

6 tbsps olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
12 ounces mushrooms
4 cups veggie stock
1 sprig of flat parsley
salt and pepper
2 ounces high-quality sherry (don’t use the cheap grocery-store variety; it’s salty and unappetizing and will ruin your soup)

In the medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the mushrooms. Let the mixture sweat for about 8 minutes, taking care that the onion doesn’t take on any brown colour. Stir in the veggie broth and the parsley and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.

After an hour, remove the parsley and discard. Let the soup cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth. Do I have to remind you to do this in stages, with the blender’s lid firmly held down, and with the weight of your body keeping that thing from flying off and allowing boiling hot mushroom puree to erupt all over your kitchen?

When blended, return the mix to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring up to a simmer again. Add the sherry, mix well, and serve immediately.

And if you really want to ratchet your soup into pretentious (and delicious), drizzle a few tiny drops of truffle oil over the surface just before serving. Why the hell not? Everybody else is doing it.”