Full flavoured yet easy to make, this simple but refined soup is cozy and rich in earthy mushroom flavours and cashew creaminess. It’s a plant-based spinoff of an age-old family favourite that is sure to please!
Fungi family relations
Did you know that a portobello mushroom was once a white button mushroom, and that a white button mushroom turns into a cremini mushroom? They’re all the same, and part of the Agaricus bispourus fungi family!
This edible mushroom, in its immature form, is white and often referred to as a button mushroom. When it ages and darkens in colour, it becomes known as a cremini or baby bella. Once the mushroom matures and the cap widens and dries out, you can find them described as portobellos.
In small bowl, place raw cashews and add 2 cups (500 mL) boiling water. Let soak while preparing soup.
In large soup pot on medium, heat avocado oil. Add leeks and onions and sauté for 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and sliced mushrooms and sauté for a further 5 minutes, then add sherry vinegar, broth, and thyme sprigs. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and discard thyme sprigs. With immersion blender, blend mushroom broth mixture well. Alternately, ladle all into blender and blend until smooth before returning to soup pot.
Drain water from cashews and add cashews to high-speed blender. Add 1 1/2 cups (350 mL) blended mushroom mixture to cashews and blend to create smooth cashew cream. Slowly whisk cashew cream back into remaining mushroom mixture in soup pot and bring to desired temperature. Enjoy!
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.