Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

1 ounce dried wild mushrooms, such as morels, cpes, or shiitakes
7 cups defatted chicken broth.
1/4 -1/2 cup tawny port
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1-1/2 pounds fresh white mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

Rinse the wild mushrooms well in a strainer under cold water to remove any dirt. Place the mushrooms in a bowl. Bring 1 cup of the chicken broth and the port to a boil and pour over the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms soak for at least 1 hour. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and set aside. Strain the liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth.

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-low, and cook to bring out their flavor, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the remaining 6 cups chicken broth, the allspice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Add half the reserved wild mushrooms with all the soaking liquid. Cook, partially covered, 15 minutes longer.  Adjust seasoning and add more port for flavor.

Puree half of the soup in a food processor or blender and return it to the pot. Add the remaining wild mushrooms along with the cream. Heat another 10 minutes to warm the soup through. Garnish each serving with the snipped chives.

Yield: 8 servings