I'm a person who loves beef, who loves mushrooms, and who loves soup, so you can imagine how I feel about beef mushroom soup. There are numerous variations on this dish, but, again, as with so many soups, simplicity is the key to success. In this version, tender, delicious beef, juicy, succulent mushrooms, and rich, tasty broth all come together with sherry and vegetables to consummate a kind of culinary love affair right on the kitchen stove. The result is an epicurean delight we know as beef and mushroom soup. I like to use a variety of fresh, local wild mushrooms whenever possible, but any of your favorite mushrooms will do.
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1¾ to 1 pound cross-cut meaty beef shank bone
1½ pounds of boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 cups mixed porcini, crimini, oyster or other mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced thick
1 can crushed tomatoes (14.5-ounce), with juice
3 carrots, washed and halved
3 celery stalks, halved
5 cups beef broth
½ cup sherry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
3 bay leaves
2 cups chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic, sliced in half
Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add shank bone and meat cubes to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 15 minutes, until meat is brown and juices reduce to a glaze, making sure to turn bone from time to time.
Add the bay leaves, along with 1½ tablespoons thyme; stir 1 minute. Add onions and celery, and cook about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add beef broth, tomatoes with juice, carrots, and mushrooms.
Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until beef is tender, about 1 hour or so. Discard shank bone and bay leaves. Use tongs to remove carrots and celery. Allow vegetables to cool, then slice them and return them to soup.
Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle a dash of the remaining ½ tablespoon thyme onto each bowl and serve.