Wild Mushroom Bisque with Arugula Pesto

Charles Watkins

Sierra Grill - Houston

Chipotle peppers are actually smoked and dried jalapeños. They are available in Mexican markets or gourmet shops. As fusion cuisine is becoming more popular, lemongrass is becoming easier to find. A good grocery store or gourmet shop should be able to help you put your hands on it. And, of course, there is always Chinatown.


  • 1 1/4 pounds (about 3) onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 pieces fresh lemongrass, each 12 inches long, cut in half
  • 1/4 chipotle pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roasted garlic
  • 1 1/2 quarts beef stock
  • 1 1/4 pounds wild mushrooms (portobello, oyster, and shiitake), brushed or washed clean, and sliced. Reserve a few oyster mushrooms for garnish.
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large bunches arugula, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


To prepare the bisque, heat a 2- to 3-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions and sauté in the butter until caramelized. Add the flour and cook about 6 more minutes. Add the wine, lemongrass, chipotle pepper, garlic, beef stock, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes and remove from the heat. Remove the lemongrass and purée remaining contents in a food processor or blender. Add the cream and bring back up to a boil. Add the lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.

To prepare the pesto, place all of the ingredients in a large blender and purée. This pesto keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

To serve, garnish the hot soup with the reserved fresh oyster mushrooms and arugula pesto.


8 to 10 servings