Oliver & Bonacini’s Mushroom Soup

mushroomsoupLast week, David and I enjoyed dinner at Canoe to celebrate our first anniversary (yay!). It was a lovely meal, from the 54-foot high view to the attentive service. One of the highlights for both of us was the mushroom soup, which we ordered as an appetizer. It was earthy, incredibly mushroom-y, and — best of all for lactose-intolerant me — dairy free (except for a small garnish of creme fraiche). I am a sucker for anything with mushrooms (I haven’t met a mushroom I didn’t like; we even successfully grew some oyster mushrooms this summer) and was eager to replicate this soup at home. Fortunately, the Toronto Star helped me out by having this recipe in its archives. We tried it today and have declared it part of our soup cycle.

This recipe is fast (less than 45 minutes!), healthy, vegetarian (can easily be made vegan if you omit the yogurt/cream garnish), and most importantly — delicious.

Oliver & Bonacini’s Mushroom Soup

Serves 4 | Original Source


  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped yellow onions (about 1 small)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Chopped leaves from 1 sprig thyme
  • 6 cups (1.5L) diced assorted mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster and king oyster — I used cremini, oyster and reconstituted dried shiitakes and used the soaking liquid as part of the water)
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups (1L) water
  • 1 bay leaf

Optional garnishes:

  • Truffle oil
  • Chopped chives / parsley / cilantro
  • Trimmed enoki mushrooms
  • Plain yogurt / sour cream / creme fraiche


  1. In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Add onions, garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, 6 minutes, to soften, reducing heat if onions start to brown. Add mushrooms in 4 batches, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper and stirring constantly. (This allows each batch to cook down slowly.) Add water and bay leaf. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Discard bay leaf. For coarse soup, purée using hand-held immersion blender. For creamy soup, purée in blender.
  3. Return to pot over medium heat. Taste; adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight to let flavours develop.
  4. If desired, top each serving with a drizzle of truffle oil, sprinkling of chives, several enokis and a dollop of yogurt.

Makes 4 servings (about 4 cups/1L).

Canadian Pea Soup

I don’t like peas.

As a child, I’d put up a fuss every time peas and carrots were served for dinner. I hated their mealy, mushy texture and ability to make everything else on the plate taste and smell like peas.

So I was skeptical when, back when we were dating, my now-husband mentioned that he wanted to make me “delicious” Canadian pea soup. In my mind, “delicious” and “pea soup” were not compatible phrases, even when love was involved.

peasoupAnyways, David waited until we were married before testing out this recipe on me. And…I was surprised. It was, indeed, delicious pea soup. HOWEVER, it was not green pea soup. It’s yellow split pea soup, a traditional French Canadian dish. I haven’t tried looking for yellow split peas anywhere besides Toronto, but here they are readily available in the bean aisle in your average supermarket.

This soup is homey and hearty — just the thing to warm you up in subzero Canadian winter weather. It’s also a forgiving recipe — I’ve altered the number of veggies, depending on what I have on hand. And though traditionally made with a ham hock, I’ve also substituted smoked pork bits and leftover ham with good success. It’s also super easy — just pile the ingredients in the pot, bring it to a boil, then simmer til delicious!

Canadian Pea Soup


  • 1 ham hock (or meaty ham bone, or ~1/2 lb. ham)
  • 2 cups dried yellow split peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
  2. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours or until peas begin falling apart and the ham meat is cooked and falling off the bone.
  3. Remove from heat. Remove meat and set aside. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig and discard.
  4. Puree soup in batches in a food processor / blender (or use an immersion blender) to desired consistency.
  5. Chop meat and return to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.