Wild Mushroom Soup

25g/1oz/2 cups dried porcini mushrooms.
30ml/2 tbsp butter
2 leeks, thiny sliced
2 shallows, rouhly chopped
225 g/8 oz fresh wild mushrooms
about 1.2 liters/ 2 pints/ 5 cups vegetable stock.
2.5 ml/l/2 tsp dried thyme
150 ml/l/4 pint/l/1 cup double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh thyme, to garnish
Serves: 4
Put the dried porcini in a bowl, add 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup warm water and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes Lift out of the liquid and squeeze over the bowl to remove as much of the soaking liquid as possible. Strain all the liquid and a reserve to use later. Finely chop the porcini.
Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until foaming Add the sliced leeks, chopped shallots and garlic and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened but not coloured
Chop or slice the fresh mushrooms and add to the pan. Stir over a medium heat for few minutes until they begin to soften. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil Add the porcini soaking liquid, dried thyme and salt and pepper. Lower the heat half cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour about three-quarters of the soup into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return the processed soup to the soup remaining in the pan, stir in the cream and heat through. Check the consistency and add more stock if necessary. Season with salt and pepper Serve hot, garnished with thyme sprigs

COOK'S TIP: Porcini are ceps. Italian cooks would make this soup with a combination of fresh and dried ceps, but if fresh ceps are difficult to obtain, you can use other wild mushrooms such as chanterelles.