It’s the perfect combo for a lazy Sunday: videogames and a big pot of soup! Specifically, Heston’s Waitrose Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe.
It’s rare that I get to enjoy a lazy, rainy Sunday round the house. But when I do one of the greatest joys is to have a pan of soup on the stove that you can graze on (along with some good bread) and a game or TV series to lose yourself in.
The choice for one of these recent lazy Sundays was Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, but if you’re not a fan of such mature, gritty, masculine entertainment you could always try fluffier stuff like Skyrim or a Game of Thrones boxset.
Soup of choice was Heston’s Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe, as featured on the Waitrose website and in the Heston at Home cookbook. This was a great opportunity to enjoy some earthy seasonal flavours at the end of our long winter, as it’ll all be light, summery fayre by the time The Last of Us is released.
Special Equipment: Handheld / Stick Blender
Special Ingredients: Dried mushrooms
Time: 40 minutes
Cost: Around £6, (more if you need to buy dried mushrooms or ingredients to make vegetable stock)
Serves: 2 – 4
Difficulty: Fairly Easy
Step 1: Mushroom Powder
There’s one thing you can reply on with his dishes – Heston will typically find a way to max-out one key aspect of a particular recipe. Here it’s the mushroom flavour itself, and the maxing-out achieved by dusting the soup with an intensely flavoured mushroom powder made from dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms.
Scatter a 50/50 mix of these onto a baking tray and put in a low oven for a few minutes. Just to ensure they’re as dry as can be. It’ll smell awesomely deep, rich and woody as it cooks.
Next blitz these in a spice or coffee grinder into a fine powder. You should also dust the lot through a small sieve to ensure there’s no unpleasant lumps. The merest whiff of this powder is incredibly potent.
The recipe makes much more than you need, so you will have plenty left over. Heston suggests using it on steaks and omelettes. Adding it to a risotto would be even better.
Step 2: Vegetable Base
No surprises here. We’re frying onions and a small potato in a gargantuan amount of butter and olive oil. These need to be cooked until soft before the next step…
.. adding the leeks and mushrooms. These take less time to cook so adding them later doesn’t ruin their taste. Around five minutes will soften these nicely:
Step 3: Liquids
Heston calls for the stock to be simmering when it’s added. We used some leftovers from Heston’s Vegetable stock recipe, which we made for his Beetroot Spelt Risotto recipe.
This is added to your veg, followed by a dash of cream. As you can see there’s an atrocious amount of fat swimming on the surface.
Time to blend the lot. We’re using a stick blender, convenient since it needs to be deployed later for aerating purposes.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
He does like refinement in his food so, as with many of his dishes, Heston’s Mushroom Soup recipe asks you to pass the blended mixture through a fine sieve.
We ended up with a modest amount of solid left in our sieve, perhaps proof that we hadn’t blended the mixture quite as thoroughly as we should have. Jug blender next time.
The stick blender does prove useful for the next marvellous step: aerating the soup. We’ve tried this a few times now and we’ve finally got the technique sorted. You need to hold the blender ever-so-slightly out of the liquid, enabling the spinning blades to drag air down into the soup, which will aerate it. This process creates a marvellously light texture and “mouthfeel”: Part-Meal. Part-Malteaser. All-Cop.
Remember that mushroom powder we made in Step 1? Well the very final thing you need to do is dust it over the soup and you’re ready to tuck in and go defeat Shadar.
This soup was pretty good. You get a massive hit of mushroom flavour thanks to that powder sprinkled on top.
The texture wasn’t perfect. This version was a bit granular, even after sieving. We’re putting this down to a couple of factors – the first being not blending thoroughly and the second as the slightly waxy potato we used in the base.
Heston’s Mushroom Soup recipe doesn’t really need the extra body that comes from adding the potato, and it seems to contradict the efforts to lighten it by aerating it with the hand blender.
The biggest downside though is that Heston’s Mushroom Soup recipe is terribly unhealthy. This was a fact I only realised after finishing ¾ of the entire pan by myself, a full 3 portions.
Comments on the Waitrose website highlight that each serving contains more than an adult’s recommended saturated fat intake for a single day! Probably not the best choice of meal when the only calories you’re burning all day are from pressing a joypad!
With a few changes this dish would definitely be worth repeating, especially in Autumn & Winter when it’s earthy flavours would capture the essence of the season (that’s an arsey way to say it – but you know what I mean). But for The Last of Us I might try the year-round flavours of Heston’s Pea and Ham soup recipe.
- Omit the potatoes and most of the butter
- Skip the cream to save on cost and calories
- Top with chives and some truffle oil
So what did you think of Heston’s Mushroom soup recipe? And if you have an opinion on the evolution and current state of the JRPG-genre, please let us know in the comments section below. Perhaps you like the way Ghibli’s aesthetic elevates your perception of Ni No Kuni, or maybe you think it’s a cynical ploy to lure players, and one that demeans the studio’s respected body of film work. Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!