Archive for the ‘Soup’ Category

Moron Simple Country French Soup

21 September 13

This is Anthony Bourdain’s basic French inspired country style mushroom soup. It is about as simple and moron-proof as it can get. The only thing easier is to open a can. And believe me – this is mucho better. There are only 3 very minor gotcha’s to look for. I’ll tell you that the first and worst gotcha’ is that it has to simmer for an hour, uninterrupted. The others I’ll tell you about on the way.

There are several pluses to this – not the least of which is that it tastes delicious.

6 Tbs butter
1 each onion, thinly sliced
12 oz button mushrooms, halved (if whole) or pre-sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig parsley
2 oz sherry
    salt and pepper

Slice up the onion, heat up a couple of Tbs of the butter in a 3 quart saucepan, and slowly sweat the onions until they are tender and soft. Second gotcha’ – do not let the onions brown. If you do you might as well start over again.

Add the rest of the butter and the mushrooms. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and tender. A little mushroom liquid remaining is ok, you don’t have to boil it all off.

Add chicken stock and parsley. I think Bourdain recommends flat parsley, we mostly have curly and it comes out just fine. When things come to a boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and let her go for an hour, uncovered. The occasional stir doesn’t hurt a thing.

Here is the third gotcha: You’ve got to puree. There are a couple of ways to go here. If you’ve got a good immersion blender – go that way. You could also use a food processor. I use a blender and the gotcha is that you had better be holding the lid down with everything you’ve got and no more than ¼ full. Unless it is a really gentle start a powerful blender is going to try to lift that lid and put soup all over the kitchen ceiling, getting you and the counter and anything else in the way for fun. Trust me – hold that lid down and do batch processing.

Return the soup to the saucepan and bring it back to a simmer. Add the sherry – do use reasonably good stuff, not cooking sherry. Turn the heat off, and salt and pepper to your taste.

For the adventurous, suicidal, or knowledgeable: Yeah, sure, you can add some or all wild mushrooms. Just don’t use stuff that is really strong other than in small amounts – this is a beautiful, delicate soup and too much stout wild taste would kill it.


Cream of Mushroom Soup

15 October 11

1/4 cup onions, minced
3 Tbs Unsalted butter
3 Tbs a/p flour
6 cups unsalted chicken broth, seasoned with 2 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/8 tsp thyme
salt and pepper
1 lb fresh mushrooms – save the caps, rough-chop the stems
2 Tbs unsalted butter
thinly sliced mushroom caps – from the above pound of mushrooms
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs unsalted softened butter

cream mushroom soup

Image via Wikipedia

This is Julia’s recipe for the real French cream of mushroom soup. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps. Rough chop the stems. Fine slice the caps. Set them both aside.

Start the stock heating up to the boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. If you make your own stock what you want is a traditional white stock. I can’t find it in my local store, so I use chicken stock. If you are using chicken stock you will need to remove the bay leaf and parsley after boiling a minute of two.

Sauté the onions in 3 Tbs of unsalted butter. Do not let them brown, what you want is just nice and softened. Probably about 5 to 8 minutes depending on your stove’s low setting. Once again: DON’T BROWN.

Make a pale roux: add the flour and stir or whisk over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Don’t get it brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and add boiling stock a cup at a time, stirring continuously. When the roux has been completely liquefied and absorbed add all back into the liquid.

Add in the rough chopped mushroom stems and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. If there is any scum on the surface skim it off.

Strain the mixture through a sieve. Squeeze the juice out of the mushroom stem pieces. The easiest way is just prop a sieve over a pan, pour the juice through and let it sit for a few minutes. Dispose of the remains of the mushroom stems and onions that are left in the sieve.

Slowly sauté the sliced mushroom caps, lemon juice, and salt in the 2 Tsp of butter for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and their juices to the strained soup base and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Beat two egg yolks and 3/4 cup heavy cream together. Temper by adding hot soup about ½ to 1 cup at a time while whisking constantly and vigorously. When the mix has been tempered add it back into the soup. Stir over very low heat. Do not let it come to a simmer. All you want to do is let it thicken a bit – about 2 minutes.

Taste and correct seasoning. Off the heat stir in 1 to 3 Tbs of butter to taste.

If you want to impress your dinner guests reserve some of the prettier mushroom caps, flute and sauté in lemon and butter. What is fluting you say? It is just carving a pretty curved pattern with a small, very sharp knife. If you don’t want to flute – or don’t know how, you can use a zester to make a pretty pattern, or skip the pretty pattern bit and just serve the caps undecorated. Anyway – float the sautéed caps in the bowls or cups just before serving.

This stuff is easier than it sounds, and doesn’t take all that long.

This lot will feed 4 to 6 depending on whether you just want a small soup course or more of the main meal. Really outstanding with a crusty French bread for dunking.

Oh yeah – for those who are used to the canned cream of mushroom that is kind of stiff this will seem a bit liquid. You can stiffen/thicken it up by adding a small amount of arrowroot or cornstarch before serving. On the other hand – if what you are after is the taste of the canned junk then just serve it and don’t go to this trouble. But – my taste buds claim that this well worth the minor effort.

Final note: You could probably use any mushroom that tickles your fancy, but for the best results the plain old button mushroom just can’t be beat. This is a rather balanced and delicate taste and the stouter mushrooms just overpower everything in my opinion.

Leek Soup – A Real Comfort Food

8 December 10

The leek has been with us a long time. The Egyptians were eating it pretty regularly by 2000 B.C. If figures heavily in many Mediterranean and Western European Cuisines. The Romans liked them a lot. The French use them in the wonderful vichyssoise, the Romans ate them in soup or sautéed in oil. The Scots cock-a-leekie soup is basically chicken broth, the cock part, and leeks, the leekie part. And so on. This is just a smooth, rich, tasty leek soup.

Makes 6 servings.

8 medium leeks, about 3 lbs., just the white and light green, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
1 small boiling potato, half pound or a little less, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ stick unsalted butter
½ cup chilled heavy cream, whipped or crème fraiche

Rough chop or slice the leeks, rinse and wash them, then drain pretty well. You can use a salad spinner if you’ve got one, or drain and pat dry with towels.

Cook the leeks, onion, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat until the things are softened. Stir every now and then; it should take 8 to 10 minutes.

Chop up the potato and add it to the pot with the wine, stock, water, and bay leaf. Bring things to a boil, back off the heat and simmer with the pot partially covered for about 15 minutes. Make sure the veggies are nice and tender. About potatoes: I don’t peel potatoes unless there is a really good reason. Most of the flavor and nutrition is in the skin, so why throw it away? You can peel them if you want.

Toss the bay leaf out and add in the chopped parsley. Stir occasionally, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Keep the soup at the lowest simmer you can get while you prepare a roux.

In a small, heavy saucepan over medium to low heat: melt the other ½ stick of butter, when the foam dies down but before the butter turns color stir in the flour. Keep whisking and carefully regulate heat so as not to overheat until the roux starts to color golden – just a couple of minutes. Begin adding 2 cups of stock slowly, whisking constantly. Then add the mix back into the soup pot, whisking constantly. If you don’t temper the roux first is will just lump up when you dump it in and you will have a little roux dumpling.

Run through your blender in batches. You don’t want to fill a blender more than about 1/3 full for this. Or a food processor. Or an immersion blender (stick blender) in the pot. Anyway, get everything nicely ground up pretty much to a puree. By the way – if you are using a blender hold the top down firmly, especially when starting. You would not believe how much force a thick, hot stock can generate when the blender starts.

Return to the pot and reheat if necessary. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Serve warm. Top with whipped cream or crème fraiche.

You can make the whipped cream with just a hand mixer – beat until it just starts to make soft peaks, no further.

Crème fraiche is something that the French have used forever, but has only been available in this country recently. It is a very mild and tasty soured cream – yeah, I know that the name misleads. The only place that I have found the real deal is at the local Whole Foods. This stuff is much better than the standard harsh sour cream that you are used to. Worth making an effort to find if you can. The US pasteurizing laws prohibit the standard French processing. An outfit named Kendall Farms has figured out how to make the real deal. You can order from Amazon, but it is really expensive. for information. You might also find it in a specialty import shop. I bet it’ll cost you.

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