APRIL 9, 2012

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

MIKE RYAN, SOUS CHEF OF ELEMENTS

Mike Ryan, 32, found his way to Elements in Princeton, New Jersey, by way of stints at Circa and The Ryland Inn, where he met Elements chef-owner Scott Anderson. Anderson opened Elements in 2008, bringing a focus on inventive cuisine and local flavor to Princeton. Ryan has spent the past three and a half years in the Elements kitchen, working his way to sous chef. The area is familiar to Ryan, who grew up in nearby Oldwick. Outside of work, Ryan shows us how he spends his downtime, teaching us to make a silky, nourishing mushroom soup in his Belle Mead kitchen and talking to us about his favorite food finds, from black trumpet mushrooms to Époisses cheese.

TRACK THIS CHEF

Mike Ryan's:
See Recipe See the recipe for Mike Ryan's Mushroom Soup

DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Favorite Food to Cook

One of Ryan's favorite activities is baking bread. He buys goat's milk to make yogurt and uses the leftover whey in a whole-wheat loaf with spelt flour.

Critical Pantry Item

A little goes a long way with high-quality soy sauce. Ryan uses white soy sauce, which lends a sweeter, more subtle flavor to dishes.

MAKE THE
Mushroom Soup

YIELD

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

Yield: 6 servings

 

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided

1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1½ pounds cremini mushrooms, 1 pound finely chopped, ½ pound sliced

3 large fingerling potatoes, finely chopped

1 sprig thyme

1 dried bay leaf

¼ cup dry white wine

4 cups vegetable broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Crusty bread for serving

Fresh goat's-milk cheese (Chèvre), for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chopped mushrooms, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf and continue to cook, stirring often, until all of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Pour the wine into the pot; once it has been mostly absorbed, add the vegetable broth. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat.

4. In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the ½ pound sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.

5. Blend the soup in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender (if using a regular blender, take care to pulse the soup at first to let off some heat before blending). Return the soup to a clean pot set over medium heat. Season with the soy sauce, salt and pepper and cook until warmed through. Divide the soup among soup bowls and sprinkle with some of the sautéed mushrooms. Serve with crusty bread and fresh goat's-milk cheese.

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