Mushroom Soup
(serves 4 as an appetizer)
Clean, slice, and saute over medium heat in olive oil:
12 - 16 fresh mushrooms
 
When the mushrooms have softened, but before they brown, add:
1 leek, sliced
and cook another 5 - 10 minutes.  Add:
2 c water
and simmer for 30 minutes.
 
Transfer everything to a blender and process until very smooth, adding:
2 T sherry
1 pinch cayenne
salt and white pepper, to taste
 
Keep warm in a thick-bottomed pot over low heat until ready to serve.  Garnish small bowls of soup with a little swirl of sour cream, a sauteed slice of mushroom, a toasted slice of almond, and/or a sprig of parsley or cilantro.
Notes & Variations:
  1. This simple recipe yields a thick, rich soup that is best served in small bowls or demitasse cups, as an elegant appetizer to a fancy meal.
  2. Ordinary white mushrooms are perfectly adequate in this, but adding fresh shitakes or porcini (if dried, add them after the water), will give a more sophisticated flavor.
  3. There are a million substitutions and variations: some butter with (or instead of) the olive oil, a small onion for the leek, white wine instead of the sherry, a mild stock instead of the water; a hint of sage or summer savory, or a pinch of nutmeg.  Cream is not necessary to make this soup taste rich, but it can certainly be added.  Experiment!
  4. Stir a teaspoon of milk into a couple of tablespoons of sour cream to make it liquid enough to do a swirled garnish instead of a dollop.