Just in time for the cold winter months, Rania Harris is in the Pittsburgh Today Live kitchen whipping up some delicious soup to keep you warm!

Wild Mushroom Soup with Blue Cheese Toasts

For Soup:
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 pound fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and coarsely chopped
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
½ pound fresh wild mushrooms, brushed clean and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup heavy (double) cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For Blue Cheese Toasts:
20 ounces blue cheese such as Roquefort, Stilton, or Gorgonzola, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 baguette slices, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh chives

To make the soup: in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, melt 1½ tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the button mushrooms, dried porcini mushrooms, stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the sliced wild mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and the mushroom liquid has evaporated, 6-8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a dish. Set aside.

Using an emersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add the cream and sautéed wild mushrooms and stir to combine. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place over medium heat and reheat to serving temperature.

To make the toasts: in a small bowl, mash together the blue cheese and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the cheese onto the toasted baguette slices and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil until the cheese is bubbling around the edges, 30-60 seconds. Remove from the broiler and sprinkle with the chives.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and float a blue cheese toast in the center of each bowl. Serve at once.

Serves: 6

Corn Chowder with Walnut Pesto

4 cups frozen corn kernels
1 cup heavy cream
2 sliced bacon – minced
1 onion – medium, finely diced
1 red bell pepper – finely diced
1 Jalapeno – seeded and diced
1 celery stalk – finely diced
1 garlic clove – minced
6 cups homemade chicken stock
3 yellow potatoes – peeled and diced
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese – shredded
Salt to taste
Walnut Pesto

Reserve ¾ cup of the corn kernels and puree the rest with the heavy cream in a food processor or blender. Reserve until needed.

Cook the bacon in a soup pot oven medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, jalapeno, celery, and garlic. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the stock and potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Using an emersion blender, blend the soup briefly, but not to a complete puree. It’s OK for the soup to show some of the corn kernels and bits of cooked potatoes and vegetables.

Add the pureed corn and cream and the cheese. Warm the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the soup in warmed bowls and drizzle with Walnut Pesto.

Makes: 2 quarts

Walnut Pesto:

½ cup shelled walnuts
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 fresh basil leaves

Combine all ingredients except for the basil in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the basil and puree briefly. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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