It’s the season of the pot luck, of going out to eat a lot, of people pressing desserts, sometimes even home-made and wonderful, on you. I haven’t lost 35 and counting pounds, to gain them back if I can help it. I also don’t want to deprive myself along the way, especially along the social way. Let’s face it: we don’t just communicate by talking, or by Facebook, or by evil Txt Msgs, but by creating. Creating food, for instance.
This, I decided, called for a soup. A soup without a cream or starch base, but which still had substance, flavor, and satisfaction. And so, at risk, I took the plunge…
I just tried my hand at a mushroom soup. I’d never made one before, but enjoy them tremendously when I’ve found them at good restaurants. Mushrooms are a major food group unfortunately without a prominent (or any) position on the new My Plate governmental food graphic, which I am not going to bother linking to. (I like the sudden prominence of vegetables over grains these days, but we need to wait for a future post to get into the nuances of other details.)
I found just a few starchless, cream-less mushroom soup recipes on the net, and my links for them are towards the end. So anyhow, this is what I ended up doing:
1 pound fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used crimini and filled in the balance with de-stemmed shiitake).
1 small/medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 thin stalks celery, thinly chopped
1 large shallot (I just KNOW leeks are lurking in my fridge, but I ended up with the shallot instead)
1 ounce dried mushrooms (I used porcini and shiitake)
5 tablespoons butter.
4 cups water from the rehydrated mushrooms, filled out to volume with vegetable broth, preferably without salt added. (You COULD use poultry stock, homemade of course, but the turkey stock I have in my freezer was cooked with seasonings I didn’t want in this soup. Plus, I kinda wanted to go vegetarian with this.)
Handful of fresh parsley
2 ounces sherry, medium or dry. (If you don’t want sherry, sub in a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar).
ground pepper and salt to taste
Brown the onion, celery, shallot (or leek) with about 2 tablespoons of the butter. I used a good quality butter, as shown in the image below:
Butter can be wholesome, and it certainly still beats the pants off of margarine in both the taste and health categories, especially if you can find a butter like the one depicted above. (I don’t use a lot of butter, overall, so when I do buy it, I don’t really mind if it costs a bit more. I tend to buy new about once every five or six months.) If you like, you can substitute out some of the butter for extra virgin olive oil, but just keep in mind that mushrooms soak things up, so you will probably indeed need close to the total five tablespoons of some healthy (hopefully) oil source.
Yes, because now you are going to add in your mushrooms (drain any dehydrated reconstituted ones, reserving the liquid), and your butter, and saute this all about 8 minutes. Stir.
Put all the above into the soup pot, add 4 cups of liquid as described above, toss in the parsley and simmer lightly about 45 minutes to an hour, uncovered.
Puree. I used my Smart Stick. Any immersion puree-er is recommended. You can leave small chunks in.
Add the sherry, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Since this is reduced down from the original to some degree (by about a quarter, depending upon the size of your stockpot), you probably don’t want to add much salt. Simmer another ten minutes, covered, and serve. If you have to re-heat, you may want to balance liquid levels by adding a little water. Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top (or perhaps chives) if you wish. If for nothing else, it makes for a better photo.
Recipes used as reference, online:
http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2009/01/double-mushroom-soup-recipe-inspired-by.html This one insisted on using some amount of dried and reconstituted mushroom, and the resulting soaking water, to add to that mushroom flavor. I also took her suggestion to try crimini to heart.
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/02/dinner-tonight-bourdains-mushroom-soup-recipe.html This is the recipe that the previous author adapted from. Like Bourdain, I chose to go with outright butter, but I figured that his called-for 6 tablespoons was about one tablespoon more than needed. I let the mushrooms tell me how much they themselves needed. (Having read and enjoyed his Kitchen Confidential, I fully expected he’d be tossing in more butter than would be needed… but I’m surprised his recipe called only for white button mushrooms.)
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/mushroom-soup-without-cream/detail.aspx This was the recipe that encouraged me to use my leeks (I still can’t find them, but I’m sure they’ll turnip once they start going bad…) and celery. Maybe they went and became WikiLEEKs, or maybe I should just stop trying to do bad puns here. The author also used carrots but since I personally consider carrots evil, I will again stop here.
This soup served 6 people at a potluck (where there was plenty of food from all of us), with some left over for a seventh. (And yes, everyone made great food.) At a regular lunch, with soup and salad, I assume this would serve three, possibly four, comfortably.
I will make this again.
PS: Use whatever mushrooms appeal to you. I don’t think morels would work well, and steer away from those canned things (they taste soggy and metallic, in my opinion), and truffles would be far far far too expensive. I need to do more research on mushrooms, but my occasional mycologist contacts indicate that almost all (edible) mushrooms are strong on cancer-discouragement properties. And, alas, that the humble white button mushroom that we all know is supposed to have the least amount of healthy properties of all.
PPS: Cleaning fresh mushrooms: a damp cloth (paper or lint-free fabric) works wonders. Here I will put in an unsolicited plug for Marcal’s “Small Steps” recycled paper towels for when you can’t use cloth. Their TP is also great, too, unlike some recycled brands I will refrain from naming.
(Shared at Fresh Bites Friday)