This rich soup, fortified with beef stock and pancetta, deepens the intensity of kale and mushrooms through a long simmering process. In the SF Bay Area, we have access to many fresh mushrooms, like porcinis and chanterelles, that are difficult at best to cultivate and instead require the skilled eye, scientific mind and local knowledge of the expert forager.
Luckily, during the peak of the fall mushroom season, only a trip to the farmers market is required. As a mycophagist (aka fungus eater), I like to prepare them simply, either balancing their earthy flavors with a little fat and acid or deepening their intensity for maximum mushroom impact by simmering in rich soups or long cooking times.
In a medium stockpot, with a splash of olive oil, sauté pancetta until fat is rendered and meat is crispy. Remove
pancetta and reserve for finishing soup, if desired. Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
Add mushrooms and thyme, and more olive oil if necessary. Sauté mushrooms until brown and cooked through, about
6–8 minutes. Add flour and a pinch of salt and stir, cooking for a minute or two until incorporated into the mixture.
Deglaze pan with white wine and sherry.
Once the alcohol has evaporated, add the beef stock, water and pinch of cayenne. Simmer on low for 20 minutes to incorporate flavors. Purée with a few pulses of an immersion blender to thicken soup, or purée 2 cups of mushrooms and broth in blender. Add soup back to pot and simmer if necessary to thicken slightly.
When almost ready to serve, add kale and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add crispy pancetta if desired just before serving.
Check seasoning and add salt, pepper or cayenne to taste.