1In a large pot or casserole dish, sweat the onions in the olive oil over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
2Add the carrots, celery and garlic to the pan and saute for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, roughly slice half of the mushrooms and finely chop the rest.
3Add half of the chopped and sliced mushrooms to the pot. When they have reduced in size a little add the rest of the mushrooms.
4Once these have cooked down a little (approx 5 min) so there is room in the pot, add the tomatoes, thyme, red wine and soy sauce. If using, spray in the liquid smoke.
5Stir well and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and leave, partially covered, for 45 minutes.
6Now that your ragu is ready, it's time to make the polenta. Make sure those who are eating are ready to eat as the polenta goes from creamy to stodgy very quickly.
7Bring 950ml/4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the salt while it is coming to a boil.
8With the water at a simmer, slowly pour in the polenta, whisking all the while. Keep whisking until all the polenta is in. Add the olive oil and whisk it in. The polenta I use only takes about 3 minutes, but it can vary, so keep your eye on it.
9Turn the heat off before you think the polenta is as thick as you'd like it (it will carry on thickening).
10Serve the mushroom ragu over a large serving spoonful of polenta in warm bowls. Grind over some black pepper, and salt if you think it needs it.