Thai Truffles (Het Top) and Thai Truffled Potato Soup

Ever feel like a little black truffle for dinner – but not sure if you’re ready to shell out a couple of hundred bucks for the genuine article?

OK, I recognize that this is unlikely a notion you deal with all that often, but imagine you get yourself a little truffley goodness for only a few dollars – would you then ever think to satisfy your cravings for this ultimate of luxury foods?

Het Top – is what they’re called in Thailand. They are a fungus that is found under the ground and they are a member of the truffle family – and when they’re in season they can be had for a couple of dollars a pound in any local market in northern Thailand.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble on some Het Top near your kitchen, here’s one Western take on a very Thai ingredient – one that makes use of that funky earthiness to full effect. Although Het Top have a very truffle-like taste, their texture is quite different. They have a crunchy exterior that isn’t really softened by cooking and a soft interior. Although these are traditionally cooked into Thai soups whole, I find the texture a little off-putting. To get around this, I just pop whole het top into the blender and whiz until smoothened. I use the paste-like stuff that comes out of the blender sort of like you might use a tea bag to infuse hot water with tea flavor. I wrap the mushroom paste up tightly in cheesecloth and then let this package of mushroom flavor bob in the soup while it cooks.

Thai Truffled Potato Soup

  • 1 quart of good chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 medium starchy potatoes (russet or Idaho are good bets), peeled and roughly chopped
  • About a half pound of Thai truffles (Het Top)
  • 1 medium cooking onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced garlic
  • 2 Tbls of butter
  • 1 cup of half and half cream
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Blend the Het Top in a blender or food processor until it is almost paste like in consistency. Take the paste out of the blender and then fold it into a square of cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth over the het top and secure it with kitchen twine (imagine you’re making a big tea bag here. There are no extra points for style, as long as the mushrooms stay inside!
  2. Melt the butter in heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat and then add in the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have softened, about 6 or 7 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and stir for another minute or so and then add in the chicken stock, the potatoes, the and truffle tea-bag.
  3. Let this mixture come to a simmer and then cook until the potatoes are completely softened and the broth has picked up the taste of the het top – about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cooked soup to a blender and process until smooth. Add in the cream and then salt to taste.
  5. Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped green onions or chives for garnish, interest and taste!

Delicious truffle soup at a fraction of the cost!

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