Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


What’s cooking for Lent: Wild Mushroom Soup from the University of Georgia Catholic Center

Published April 3, 2014

ATHENS—Tuesdays mean the community comes together at the University of Georgia Catholic Center for a Lenten reflection and a noon meal of soup and bread. During part of it, Franciscan Father Tom Vigliotta, the center’s director, invites a student to give a short reflection on how Jesus, the Bread of Life, is revealed in an experience of daily life. “We call it glances of life in the Kingdom of God,” Father Tom wrote by email.

Chef Persia Briones of the UGA Catholic Center

Chef Persia Briones of the UGA Catholic Center

With Scripture as the departure point, a student shares from his personal experience. For example, reflecting on the Transfiguration of Christ, one spoke of how the way his dad would lead the family in prayer before meals showed his vulnerability and how the family experienced the transforming power of God after this prayer.

“It is an hour service, served simply, so all can feast on the Word Of God and in our gathering of faithful people,” Father Tom wrote.

Following the Tuesday talk and sharing, those who gather have soup and bread served by Persia Briones, a chef and the events coordinator at the UGA Catholic Center.

She provided this recipe for Wild Mushroom Soup, a favorite of Father Tom’s, which was served March 25, for the Lenten Soup Reflection Series. With the help of a team of volunteers, Briones also offers dinner after the 5 p.m. Sunday Mass at the center. All students are invited to have this experience of home away from home. During exam weeks each semester, the center is kept open 24 hours a day as a safe and quiet place for students to study and pancakes are served at midnight.


2 cups water or vegetable broth

1 1/2-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms

1 1/2-ounce package dried shitake mushrooms

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups chopped onions

2 lbs. white mushrooms, sliced

2 lbs. baby Bella button mushrooms, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1 cup all purpose flour

1 quart heavy cream

1/2 gallon half and half

1/3 cup cooking sherry

salt and white pepper


Bring water or broth to boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add porcini and shitake mushrooms to saucepan; let soak until mushrooms soften, about 20 minutes. Reserve broth but discard any sediment in broth.

Heat butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Add baby Bella and white mushrooms; sauté until brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic, thyme, sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over; stir 1 minute. Add porcini, shitake, heavy cream, cooking sherry and half and half. Simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently for about 30 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot. Bring soup to simmer. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and serve. Makes about 1 gallon of soup.

Serves: 4