Corn Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

Adapted from Still Life with Menu
Preparation time: 20 minutes after the mushrooms are soaked
Yield: About 4 servings
Try this simple, yet unusual soup. It has an exquisite texture and the deep flavor of shiitake mushrooms. The dried mushrooms can be soaked a day or two ahead, and the preparations thereafter are quick and simple.

4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
5 cups boiling water
6 cups corn (scraped from 6 ears of fresh corn–or frozen)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Minced chives or scallion greens for the top
  1. Briefly rinse the dried mushrooms to clean them, then place them in a large bowl. Add the boiling water, cover with a plate, and let stand at least 1 hour. Drain well, reserving both the mushrooms and the liquid.
  2. Strain the soaking water through a fine sieve into a soup pot. Begin heating this broth over medium heat.
  3. Remove and discard the stems from the soaked mushrooms, then mince the mushrooms and set them aside.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients except the reserved mushrooms and the chives or scallion greens. Heat just to boiling, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.
  5. Purée until smooth, either directly in the pot with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender. Return to the kettle and adjust the seasonings. (For a smoother texture you can strain the purée through a fine sieve.)
  6. Adjust the seasonings, and reheat if necessary. Serve hot, topped with minced mushrooms and chives or scallion greens.
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