There are few foods more comforting than soup. With an abundance of mushrooms and shallots, this Slow Cooker Mushroom Sherry Soup is rich with flavor and full of savory comfort.

I don’t often use my slow cooker for tasks other than keeping foods warm, but I was inspired to after finding a similar recipe online. I was delighted with the result — after only 30 minutes of prep time, the soup was in the crock and left on its own to simmer and cook for the next four and a half hours.

I used a variety of fresh mushrooms for this recipe, including cremini (baby bella), shiitake, oyster and button, as well as an ounce of dried porcini mushrooms. Using more than one type of mushroom adds depth of flavor and complexity to the soup. You can use any variety of fresh mushroom you prefer, but the dried porcini are an essential flavor-builder.

A variety of fresh and dried mushrooms bring complexity and depth of flavor to the soup, and include porcini, cremini, shiitake, oyster and button. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A variety of fresh and dried mushrooms bring complexity and depth of flavor to the soup, and include porcini, cremini, shiitake, oyster and button. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The porcini mushrooms are soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes to rehydrate and create the broth for the soup. Locally, I found dried porcini available at Natural Grocers in Fargo, and you can also find them at retailers online. As the porcini mushrooms soak, you can prepare the other ingredients so that everything is ready for the slow cooker within about 30 minutes.

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The dried porcini mushrooms are rehydrated in boiling water, and the liquid is saved to create the broth for the soup. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The dried porcini mushrooms are rehydrated in boiling water, and the liquid is saved to create the broth for the soup. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Purists will insist that you should never wash fresh mushrooms with water, as this may prevent them from becoming crisp and golden when cooked, and instead recommend using a dry cloth to tenderly brush each mushroom.

As a home cook, I don’t have the patience to dry-clean my food, and you have my permission to skip this step as well. To save time, I included some pre-sliced mushrooms in my mix, which are clean and ready to use, as well as a few packages of whole baby mushrooms which I washed and dried before slicing.

To build the flavor of the soup, sliced shallots are sauteed with minced garlic until tender before adding a cup of dry sherry. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
To build the flavor of the soup, sliced shallots are sauteed with minced garlic until tender before adding a cup of dry sherry. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The flavor-builders can be prepared as the mushrooms are drying (I lay them out on paper towels, stem side down). Four shallots are thinly sliced and sauteed with two cloves of minced garlic until tender, and then a cup of dry sherry is added and brought to a boil so the alcohol content can cook off. The sherry pairs well with the meaty richness of the mushrooms and is a key component of the soup.

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Once the porcini mushrooms are fully rehydrated, the next step is to put everything into the slow cooker: the fresh and porcini mushrooms; the broth; the shallot mixture; and a bit of fresh thyme. Give the pot a good stir to ensure that everything is coated in liquid, then cover it and forget about it for the next few hours other than the occasional stir. The mushrooms will be nearly at the top of the crock at first and will reduce by over half as the soup cooks.

The mushrooms will nearly fill a 5-quart crock, and will reduce by over half after cooking on high for four hours. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
The mushrooms will nearly fill a 5-quart crock, and will reduce by over half after cooking on high for four hours. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To create a texture that is silky, smooth and still full of mushrooms, I puree just some of the soup and add it back to the pot, and an optional touch of cream can be added just before serving.

Fragrant, lush and wonderfully rustic, this Slow Cooker Mushroom Sherry Soup is an easy way to create the perfect cup of comfort.

Dried porcini mushrooms have incredible flavor and are an essential component in Sarah's Slow Cooker Mushroom Sherry Soup. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Dried porcini mushrooms have incredible flavor and are an essential component in Sarah's Slow Cooker Mushroom Sherry Soup. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Slow Cooker Mushroom Sherry Soup

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Serves: 8

Ingredients:

4 cups water

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium shallots, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons)

1 cup dry sherry

2 ½ pounds assorted mushrooms, washed and dried, sliced ¼-inch thick

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stems removed, or 1 ½ teaspoons dry thyme

1/3 cup heavy cream (optional)

Directions:

In a medium or large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover with 2 cups of boiling water; let stand to hydrate for 20 minutes.

Drain the porcini mushrooms in a colander placed over a bowl and reserve the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

Bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add to the reserved mushroom liquid and stir in the cornstarch, soy sauce, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sherry and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute then remove pan from heat.

In the bowl of a 5-quart (or larger) slow cooker, add the porcini mushrooms, shallot mixture, reserved mushroom liquid, fresh mushrooms, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir together until the liquid is evenly distributed. The mushrooms will be at or near the top of the bowl and will reduce by about half when the soup is ready.

Cover the pot and cook on high, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are quite tender, about 3 ½ to 4 hours. Remove the cover and continue cooking until the soup thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.

Use a liquid or hand-held blender to puree 2 cups of the soup until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the slow cooker, add the cream (if using) and stir to combine. Taste and add more seasoning as desired. Serve hot with good, crusty bread.

To store: Transfer soup to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.