1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon tomato paste
⅔ cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon or so of white wine vinegar.
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup minced fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grind shiitake mushrooms in spice grinder (or a blender) until finely ground (you should have about 3 tablespoons).
Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic clove, ¾ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover saucepan, transfer to the oven and bake until rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Strain rice through a fine-mesh strainer and set in a liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.
Meanwhile, in a soup pot, cook sausage over medium heat until browned. Remove and set aside. Melt butter in same soup pot over high heat. Add cremini mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on the bottom of the pot (about 15 minutes). Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry (about 2 minutes). Add ground shiitake mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, broth, white wine vinegar and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender (about 20 minutes).
Whisk cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water in small bowl. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and serve.
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