Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mushroom Soup

Yup, I crapped out on the whole fish again this week. Last time it was because I decided to make the wholly more interesting coeur de porc, but this wee I have a much lamer excuse... actually, the excuse is three-fold: socializing, weather, and exercise.

Wait, what?

Ok, I'll explain... we got invited to a party on Sunday night, which is great, as I love parties, and the host promised CASSOULET! Woo hoo! So I decided to make fish on Saturday. Then weather happened. Saturday was the coldest, greyest, gloomiest day of this cloudy, grey, gloomy week, so I decided to stay in bed and eat leftover takeout and frozen pizza. Then exercise... on Sunday I went to yoga class first thing in the morning, and the thing about yoga class is, it decreases my appetite by about 50-75% (weird, I know since most exercise makes me ravenous). So I didn't want whole fish for lunch. I went with a great sounding light meal for fall, though--mushroom soup.

Now I know you all have had that horrible Campbells cream of mushroom soup in pretty much every horrible casserole your mom ever made in the 1980s (I am looking at YOU beef stroganoff, and YOU TOO green beans with canned fried onions on top!). I have no idea who in their right mind would actually eat cream of mushroom soup as a soup, instead of as a weird binding agent for grey beef and egg noodles. But fortunately, this mushroom soup has no cream, but instead homemade chicken stock and sherry.

I started out with a mix of oyster, shitaake and cremini mushrooms, and also found some dried morels in the corner of the whole foods. Husband J loves morels, ever since we had them on a sausage, ramp and morel pizza. Once at the farmer's market he saw morels and started running over to the stand... but when he got close enough to see the price tag, he ran just as fast in the opposite direction. So, we don't eat a lot of morels, but the dried ones are slightly less pricey, so I decided that mushroom soup was a good enough excuse to get some.

Mushrooms waiting to be souped. The ones in the black bowl are the morels. They look... um... not delicious. But they were.

The soup itself was incredibly easy to make. Just sweat a thinly sliced onion in some butter...

Then add the mushrooms and more butter to the pot, and cook for 8 minutes.

Next, add the chicken stock and a sprig of parsley, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour.

After the hour is up, it's time to puree. Once again Tony gives a dire warning to us to make sure to hold all of our weight down on the blender to save ourselves from the inevitable splatter of hot mushroom puree. And once again, I laugh in the face of splatter with my stick blender.

Once blended, season with salt, pepper, and stir in a little sherry. Since it's Sunday, and DC frowns upon the posibility of the heathen hoards getting trashed while the good teetotallers go to church, there was no sherry to be had. Husband J came to the rescue by running to the only wine shop open on Sundays and found a bottle of sweet bourdeaux. Perfect. Two shots of the bourdeaux got swirled into the soup, and lunch was ready to go.

And the result? Seriously, the best soup ever. Better than the vichyssoise, better than soupe au pistou, better than she-crab with sherry even! (I didn't make she-crab soup with sherry, I just like it.) Dignity barely prevented Husband J and I from lifting the soup bowls to our faces and licking them clean.

We had a ton left for the rest of the week too, which is great, as Tony promises that this soup gets better with time (it's true). This is definitely something to make again, and soon.

Lessons Learned: Sometimes the simplest things to make are the most delicious. But get your sherry on Saturday. Dried morels are almost as good as fresh.

Next week: Man, I wish I knew. Possibly I'll try for the fish again, or something with delicious red meat... mmm.

The cassoulet, by the way, was excellent, but I'm feeling a bit nervous about making it myself. That's a TON of food for one thing, and it's all simmering meats. Delicious but I must have eaten a portion about the size of a cigarette packet and didn't eat anything until 8:00 pm the next day it was that filling. Remind me to serve 20 people with a thimblefull of cassoulet each.

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