Sabor de soledad: making Padma Lakshmi’s rustic wild mushroom soup, only with pasta instead of potatoes.

Rustic wild mushroom soup with trottole, inspired by Padma Lakshmi

Michael spent much of the second week of November in Phoenix at a conference, and I didn’t go along with him this time because he was technically staying at a resort in Scottsdale, and it didn’t seem worth spending all that time on a plane to just wander around a resort, however nice it was. Were he staying downtown again, well that would have been a different thing entirely–I hope to be able to go to Phoenix when it isn’t hot as hell out and explore the area properly on foot.

Regardless, him traveling meant that I had to come up with some fun meals for myself, and so I decided that it was a perfect excuse to make some soup. I received Padma Lakshmi’s first cookbook Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet for my birthday, and among the many recipes I flagged in that book to make were quite a number of soups. Her take on a rustic Italian-style mushroom soup piqued my interest immediately, and on the menu for the week it went.

The idea behind this soup is that it’s a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms and she encourages you to use whatever combination makes sense to you. I largely stayed with her recommendations, but deviated slightly by using dried shiitake mushrooms (something we always have in our pantry) in addition to dried chanterelles, and I added some oyster mushrooms as they are my favorite of the more exotic varieties and they happened to look really good at the store when I bought them.

As the title for this post implies, I also used pasta instead of a potato because, well, that’s my preference. It’s been ages since I made a soup laden with pasta, and I was really in the mood for it, and I couldn’t resist a fun shape like these trotolle. I love how the curves in this shape capture bits of broth and mushrooms, and the presentation is just so nice.

I made this soup in the afternoon so I could photograph it in natural light, but I also wanted to let the ingredients in the finished soup marry in the fridge for a few hours before dinner because most soups benefit from that step. I’m happy I did so because dicing all of these mushrooms takes a good 20 minutes alone, but the final result was really worth it.

Rustic wild mushroom soup with trottole

Lightly adapted from Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet by Padma Lakshmi

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 4 TB unsalted butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut lengthwise
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, cleaned and diced
  • 8 oz portobello mushrooms, cleaned and diced
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and diced
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms, stem removed and diced
  • ¾ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
  • ¾ oz dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 ½ cup trottole pasta
  • ¼ cup snipped scallions
  • Rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 inches long)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter and oil and once the butter melts, add the garlic and bay leaves and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent, about five minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, crushed red pepper, and dried thyme, stir well to combine, and then cover the pot and let it cook on medium heat until the mushrooms have reduced in size for 12 minutes. Stir the contents in the pot occasionally.

As the mushrooms cook, soak the dried mushrooms in boiling hot water in a bowl for 10 minutes, and then remove the mushrooms (reserving the steeping water) and dice them. Add them to your soup.

Add the chicken stock, scallions, and cheese rind, and bring the soup to a simmer. Let this cook for 30 minutes, uncovered.

When 30 minutes are up, add the pasta to the pot and let it cook until the pasta is tender, about another 10-12 minutes. 

If desired, you can let the soup cool and then store in the fridge for a few hours before service. If so, reheat the soup on medium heat before serving.

Ladle the soup in bowls and garnish with the parsley and additional cheese, if desired. 

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