The Grape may be closing, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up its delicious mushroom soup.
“I have met people from all over,” owner Brian Luscher previously told the Advocate. “When they find out I am the owner of The Grape, I am most often asked ‘Do you still have the mushroom soup?’ I always reply, ‘Oh yeah! We could never take it off the menu.’”
What he doesn’t tell them is the recipe has been passed down through the restaurant “family” for more than 37 years.
Chef Michael Blackwell, whose first stint at The Grape was from 1973-1977, brought quiche and a French- leaning cuisine to the restaurant. He perfected the mushroom soup recipe and taught it to his cooks, one of which was Hector Cruz.
Some 10 years later, he taught the recipe to his younger brother, Juan, a dishwasher at the time. Juan Cruz passed it to the youngest Cruz brother, Chuy, who was also a dishwasher. Chuy Cruz became the morning sous chef and taught the recipe to another cook.
We’ll pass it on once more.
2-1/2 lbs button mushrooms, washed and chopped (It’s easy to do in a food processor.)
1 large onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 dry bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
1/2 lb unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 quarts beef broth or stock, or the equivalent made with beef bouillon cubes
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
– In a heavy-bottomed, 8-quart stock or soup pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cook until translucent.
– Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until most of the water comes out of them. Add the sherry, if you like, and reduce by half.
– Add the flour and stir well to avoid lumps. If you do get some, it’s OK. They can be pureed out later.
– Slowly whisk in the broth or stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
– Continue to stir the soup, or the bottom may scorch. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
– Finish by adding the heavy cream and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Puree the soup in a blender or with a hand-held blender.
Notes: Makes 16 servings. The recipe may be cut in half, but it is worth making the whole batch because it freezes so well.