When Brian and Courtney Luscher took over Lower Greenville bistro The Grape in 2007, they knew there were a few classic dishes on the menu they couldn't mess with, lest long-time customers revolt: steak frites, crème brûlée, and above all else, the famous mushroom soup. Served since the restaurant first opened back in 1972 under then-chef Frank Bailey (brother of former Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison), the Luschers not only kept it on the menu, but they've also kept the recipe just as it was 43 years ago at the behest of their customers.
In the four decades the soup has been on the restaurant's menu, it's only been made by three cooks — who just so happen to be brothers. Hector Cruz began making it in the 1970's; a decade or so later, he instructed his brother Juan, a dishwasher at the time, on the finer points of making the soup. Now the task has been handed down to youngest brother Chuy, who's in charge of producing the 15 gallons or so that The Grape's customers slurp up every week.
Scope out the slideshow above to see how Chuy executes this time-honored classic.
Hungry? Although the price has certainly gone up a bit since the 1970's, a cup of mushroom soup will still run you just $4 ($6 for a bowl) today. Feeling ambitious? Here's the recipe scaled down for home cooks:
The Grape's Famous Mushroom Soup Since 1972
Yield: 16 servings
2 1/2 pounds button mushrooms, washed and chopped
1 large onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
3 quarts beef broth or stock (or the equivalent made with beef bouillon cubes)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy bottomed 6-8qt stock or soup pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf and thyme, and cook until translucent. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until most of the water comes out of them. Add the sherry, if you like, and reduce by 1/2. Add the flour and stir well to avoid lumps (if you do get some, it's okay- they can be pureed out later). Slowly whisk in the broth or stock and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. You must continue to stir the soup at this point, or the bottom may scorch. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Finish by adding the heavy cream and nutmeg, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the thyme and bay leaf, and puree the soup either in a blender, or with a hand held blender. This recipe may easily be cut in half, but it is worth making the whole batch because it freezes so well.