Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main)
500g closed cap mushrooms (eg. Portabello, chestnut, button)
75g butter
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (optional)
25g white flour
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
3 - 5 sprigs fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf
Juice of half a lemon
Half glass good white wine
Double cream (to taste)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1) Remove the stems from the mushrooms, chop and set aside. Slice the caps.

2) Heat half the butter in a large saucepan and very gently fry the shallots (and garlic if using) until soft but not coloured. About 5 - 7 minutes.

3) Sprinkle in flour and cook for a further 2 minutes.

4) Slowly add stock and stir constantly until added. Add the chopped mushroom stems and herbs, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes.

5) While stock is cooking, heat the rest of the butter in a large frying pan and saute the sliced mushroom caps until soft, about 5 - 10 minutes.

6) Add lemon juice, wine and salt and pepper to the caps, and simmer for a few more minutes before turning off the heat.

7) When ready, strain the soup stock, pressing well through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Discard the leftover stems and herbs.

8) Return to a saucepan and add the cooked muchrooms and their juices.

9) Add cream and heat gently for a further 10 minutes.

10) Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, lemon juice or pepper as required.

11) Serve piping hot with fresh buttered crusty bread.

If you prefer a smooth soup, liquidise the cooked caps before adding them to the stock. I tend to liquidise half with a little stock and leave the rest to give some body.

The garlic is optional, because cooking it this way makes it quite strong. Not good if you have a social event afterwards!

The cream can also be optional. I've found it tastes just as good with or without.

Use freshly chopped parsley as a garnish when serving, along with a good grind of fresh black pepper.