This weekend Fargo will welcome thousands of runners to our streets to participate in the annual Fargo Marathon, cheered on by those of us who stand vigilantly on the boulevard, ringing our cowbells and shouting words of encouragement.
While most of the runners have spent months prepar-ing for the big day and already know what they will be eating this week to maximize their efficiency on race day, many of us are unprepared for the rigors of duty as a spectator.
At my parents' house on south Ninth Street in Fargo, we have a rule that no runner passes without being cheered, all the way to the bitter end (which in the past usually occurred at least four to five hours after the start of the race).
Needless to say, we take our role as cheerleaders very seriously and work for days before the event to craft the perfect spectator menu. We keep in mind that our race duties will take us from breakfast, to second breakfast and even all the way through to lunch.
The foods we choose must be deliciously nourishing and provide a good boost of energy; and, if the weather forecast looks a little on the chilly side, it doesn't hurt to have something warm and comforting to ensure that we are at our best when the marathoners race by.
Sarello's Signature Wild Mushroom Soup might be the perfect choice for our noon-hour shift. Not only does it meet the above requirements, but it can be served in hot mugs, which means we can sip it straight from the cup while continuing to ring the cowbell. (You'd be surprised by how many runners request "more cowbell" as they pass.)
To make this soup, we use three different kinds of fresh mushrooms - Crimini, button and Shiitake - but you can vary this assortment depending on what's available at your local market. Tony finds using a blend of three different mushrooms enhances the overall flavor of the soup by adding depth and complexity.
Tony gives the soup a boost of Sicilian flair by including sweet Marsala wine in his recipe. This soup isn't sweet by any means, but using a sweeter wine like Marsala will enhance the wild mushroom flavor and bring even more warmth and richness to the dish. You could also use a dry Marsala, Madeira or any type of Sherry, but Tony cautions against a port or red wine, which will overpower the mushroom flavor.
Tony prefers to use chicken stock when making soup for its additional layers of flavor, but vegetable stock or even water will also work.
Full of vitamins, minerals and good earthy comfort, Sarello's Signature Wild Mushroom Soup is hearty enough to sustain even the most die-hard marathon spectators.
So don't worry, runners, when you pass our Ninth Street cheering station on Saturday - we are located just before mile markers 2 (half) and 12 (full) - we'll be there and ready, cowbell, soup and all. Go far runners!
Sarello's Signature Wild Mushroom Soup
Serves 4 to 6
½ yellow onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup Shiitake mushrooms
1 cup button mushrooms
1 cup Crimini mushrooms
2 ounces sweet Marsala wine
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons roux
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a large stockpot, sweat the onion and garlic with butter over medium heat until onions are translucent.
Add Shiitake, button and Crimini mushrooms and sweat them for approximately two minutes, then add the Marsala wine and continue cooking over medium heat for another two minutes. Add chicken stock, increase heat and bring mixture to a gentle boil for approximately 30 minutes.
Reduce to medium heat and add the roux, cooking for approximately five minutes. Use a handheld immersion blender to puree the entire mixture in the stock pot, or transfer to a food processor or liquid blender, and then back to the pot.
Once the mixture is pureed add the heavy cream while stirring, then strain the soup through a wire strainer to ensure a smooth consistency. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with fresh mushrooms. Serve and enjoy.
- For a gluten-free version simply omit the roux, add an extra half-cup of mushrooms and reduce the chicken stock or liquid by a half cup.
- If a sweet Marsala wine isn't available, use dry Marsala, Madeira or any type of Sherry. However, do not use a port or red wine as these will overpower the soup.
- A blend of at least three mushrooms is advised for better flavor, but feel free to change the variety based on what's in season and available at your local market.
Home with the Lost Italian is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello's restaurant in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 9-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. All previous recipes can be found at http://thelostitalian.areavoices.com