Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rich and Creamy Mushroom Soup

I was never much of a soup maker in my early days of cooking.  I just always thought that to make good soup (really good soup) you needed to spend a lot of time working on it.  Hours and hours of back breaking time spent over the hot stove, stirring, tasting, stirring and adding more and more items until SOUP was born.

Remember the Creamy Leek and Potato Soup I made?  Didn't take forever, did it!!

Well, in my never ending creep towards the big 4-0, I'm beginning to learn something ....

.... not all things that taste good GREAT take a lot of time to prepare.  Like soup.  And I love me a good bowl of soup!!  And since I started blogging, I've tried to add 'making soup' into my non-structional routine a bit more.

Rich and Creamy Mushroom Soup
Makes: enough for 2 dinners, 3 lunches and a tiny bit left over!

1 bag of mushrooms (sorry, I did not count or weigh, but you need quite a few)
4 Tbsp butter
Splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 small leeks
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
4 Tbsp fresh or dried parsley
1/4 cup chives
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine (optional, but super tasty)
900ml beef or chicken stock
1/2 cup (more or less) heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Begin my wiping clean your bag 'o mushrooms.  Then slice.  I sliced fairly thick, as I like PIECES of mushroom in my soup.
Slice the onion thin too.

Now, leeks.  Dirty little critters they can be!  Thankfully each time I buy them, they are not full of dirt and grit.  Yay to that!  But, check yours carefully before slicing, and only slice the white/light green parts.

Mince your garlic too.  See the fancy mincer I've got!  I love it!  Contains the garlic (you can store it in the mincer in the fridge if you use loads of garlic and want to have some on hand) and so FAST!!  And the kids like using it too!

Dice the chives and parsley too.

Now it's time to cook!

Heat in a large stock pot, over medium heat, the butter with a splash of olive oil.  Why?  The oil will make the butter less likely to burn!
Start by frying the onions and leeks until they are soft.  Stir them often.  This takes about 8 minutes.  You want them soft, but not browned.

Add mushrooms and cook until they are soft.  You're going to have to stir and toss them a lot.  You'll be amazed at how much they shrink in size when they cook - so don't be scared when your pot is FULL of mushrooms to start!

This step takes about 10 minutes.

Pot looks dry in the middle of this process?  Go ahead and add a bit more oil (either olive oil or butter).  Mushrooms ARE sponges and can soak up that oil fast.  Trust me, it won't hurt the soup!

Reserve some of the mushrooms & onions.  I tend to like a chunkier soup, so at the end (after I blend) I like to add the sauteed mushrooms back in to add a bit more texture.
Add the minced garlic.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.

Now it's time to add the flour!  And although it can be traumatic to see your beautiful pot of mushrooms go all gloppy when you add the flour - it's a process!!  Trust the process!  It will get better, I promise!  Cook and stir often for 2-3 minutes.
You really have a choice at this point.  Add wine, or not.  I like wine.  I add wine.  It really gives a great, full flavour to the soup.

Plus, you can now choose between chicken stock, beef stock or can even use vegetable stock.  My choice is the beef - it gives the soup a really rich flavour and a nice earthy colour.  Yum!
Once it all comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer (stir about every 5-10 minutes) for 30 minutes.  The soup will thicken as it cooks down, thanks to the flour!

Turn off the heat and let the soup cool. 

Transfer (probably in batches) the soup to a blender and blend until the consistency you desire.  Be careful - hot/warm liquids in a blender can make a HUGE mess if you're not holding the top on!!

Return blended soup to the pot, add the reserved mushrooms/onions and bring it back to a nice hot heat.  
Add the chives and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes.

Your soup is nearly ready to serve!!

Just before you transfer it into bowls, add the heavy cream and heat well.  Do not bring it to a boil!!  You can add more cream (or less) depending on your taste! 

Add a bit of salt and pepper - and you're ready to go!!

Enjoy the cool weather with some warm soup!  And remember - this soup is enjoyed even more when served the next day!!

--The Cook

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