Balthazar’s is one of my favorite New York City restaurants. It is located on Spring Street in SoHo and serves some of the most authentic French brasserie cuisine outside of the cafes of Paris. Brasseries are not elaborate restaurants. They are typically larger than a bistro and serve simple, straightforward, and reliable food.
Although Balthazar’s mushroom soup is not served with french fries, anything with french fries is a must at a brasserie. Moules, or steamed mussels and frites, or steak frites are always a “go-to” for me when dining at a brasserie. I have eaten the braised short ribs at the brasserie and prepared them in the Balthazar fashion for dinner guests. They are indescribably tender and succulent with a rich sauce made with a veal demi-glace. One year, we even enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner there with our children. I don’t think that our thanksgiving meal had anything to do with turkey and stuffing, but it was divine.
My husband Gayden and I have so many favorites at Balthazar’s that it is difficult to decide what to order much less cook from their beautiful Balthazar Cookbook. I am sharing this hearty, velvety mushroom soup with you because I consider this to be one of the highlights of an in-person dining experience at Balthazar’s as well as a five-star recipe from the cookbook.
The mushroom soup is simple and straightforward as much of the food from this famed brasserie. A little onion and garlic are sautéed with white button and shiitake mushrooms. Dried mushrooms and their soaking water are added after being reconstituted to create a deep smoky, earthy flavor.
The mushrooms are simmered with fresh rosemary and sage in either a chicken or vegetable stock. Heavy cream and butter are added at the end to further enrich the creamy soup. The mushroom mixture is pureed until smooth and velvety and served warm.