Morel and Toasted Rye Bread Soup

Morel and Toasted Rye Bread Soup

Morel and Toasted Rye Bread Soup

1 1/2 pounds fresh morels, washed, stems trimmed to 1/2 inch

1/2 pound artisanal-style rye bread loaf, unsliced

8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces

2 tsp. caraway seeds

5 1/2 C. homemade chicken broth

1 1/2 tsp. molasses

4 tsp. kosher salt

3 T. extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position one rack in the top third of the oven and a second one in the bottom third. Set aside 1/2 pound morels for garnish. Closely trim the crust from the rye bread, ending up with just the brown outer pieces. Place the crusts on a baking sheet and set aside. Cut enough of the remaining bread into 1/2-inch cubes to measure 1 1/2 C.. Use any leftover bread for another dish. Melt 1 T. of the butter and toss with the cubed bread. Place on a separate baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside. Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high wheat. Add the caraway seeds and toast, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and just starting to smoke, about 1 minute. Immediately turn out onto a clean baking sheet to cool. When cool, place the caraway seeds in the center of a 4-inch-square piece of cheesecloth. Fold in the sides and roll up tightly, making a compact package. Tie securely with kitchen string. Have ready a blender and a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium saucepan. Place the chicken broth, molasses, 2 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and the caraway bundle in a large stockpot over high heat. Place the remaining 1 pound morels in a large bowl and splash with 2 T. of the oil and 1 tsp. of the salt. Toss or stir quickly to coat the morels evenly with the oil. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. When the broth reaches a simmer, place the morels and rye bread crusts in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the morels are wilted and the crusts are dried out and fragrant. Meanwhile, when the broth reaches a full boil, cover the pot, turn down the heat, and hold at a simmer. When the morels and bread crusts are almost done, after about 6 minutes, turn the heat back up on the broth so that it is at a full boil when they come out of the oven. Remove the morels and bread crusts from the oven. Add the morels, along with any pan juices, to the boiling broth. When the broth returns to a boil, add the bread crusts, pushing them down into the soup to submerge them completely. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, pushing and stirring the bread crusts into the broth. When the broth returns to a full boil, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let sit for 2 minutes. Remove the caraway bundle, set it in a small bowl, and set aside. Place half the soup in a blender. Start at the lowest speed and blend for 1 minute. Increase the speed by one level and continue blending until the soup is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not blend on high—the mixture will become too thick. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the saucepan, pushing down with the bottom of a ladle to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids. Repeat with the remaining soup. Squeeze the caraway bundle into the soup, extracting all the liquid, then discard. Add the remaining 7 T. butter to the soup all at once, whisking continuously until the butter is melted and blended into the soup. Hold in a warm place. Toss the reserved 1/2 pound morels with the remaining 1 T. oil and the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the morels are wilted and fragrant. While the morels are cooking bring the soup just to a boil, whisking frequently, then hold at a simmer. Divide the soup among 4 to 6 bowls and top with the morels and the reserved croutons.

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