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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Life is Too Short to Stuff a Mushroom

We've had some seriously ick weather thus far this week down here in Texas. The type of damp weather that leaves you really fighting the urge to abandon all responsibilities and dive into bed for all of eternity.

That, or make mass quantities of soup to warm yourself up from the inside out.

Being the over achiever that I am, I did both, in reverse order.

This September, Jon and I spent a weekend in Carmel. Just in case you weren't aware, Carmel is a sneak peak at heaven on earth. Well, unbeknownst to you most likely, heaven on earth happens to house the most incredible mushroom soup ever to exist. In the past four months, I've probably mentioned this soup to no less than twenty people. No, no one discusses soup that often. Unless you have a borderline unhealthy longing for a particular variety and you happen to work it into conversations regularly.

This was not a digression. I have a point. And my point is that a perfect storm came to be Monday evening when the ick weather was at its ickiest and I came across the below picture of what once was the best soup of all time.

Clearly there was a challenge of massive food/bad weather quantities presented to me, and yes, I took that challenge and spent the better portion of 4 hours recreating the soup to the best of my ability.
just over there beyond the parmesan cheese capped green mountain of goodness you'll note an entirely empty bowl. alas, this is the only evidence that remains proving the existence of the type of mushroom soup dreams are made of - meaty, with notes of fresh herbs and a touch o' cream. salivation ensuing.
My version is seriously burn-your-tongue-because-you-can't-wait-one-more-second-to-devour-gallons-of-mushroomy-goodness good. But, me being me, I didn't have the heart to douse the thing in heavy cream, so it's more an inspirational tribute as opposed to a clone. Most likely because I'm an anti-cream soup maker given that the majority of my family is lactose-intolerant.

The good thing is, you, most likely, have not been blessed enough to try the manna from Carmel, so you'll have no idea.

While this is definitely a guilt free soup, it doesn't taste that way. It's very rich and even with the chicken broth, tasted as though it had beef in it. This is due to the meatiness of the mushrooms. It's really not a claim vegetarians make to feel included. Mushrooms add heft and the best kind.

I've never had mushroom soup in a tiny French village, but I'm absolutely certain that if I had, I would tell you this is what it tasted like.

Servings: This makes a lot of soup, 15 cups. All the ingredients are very half-able, so feel free to slice the recipe in half for those who don't need mass amounts of mushroom soup taking up their limited freezer space.

4 cups white onions diced
8 minced garlic cloves
4 lbs mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp salt
14 cups stock, I used chicken but for a less rich dish, vegetable is great and for a richer than the Queen of Sheba flavor, use beef stock
4 fresh basil leaves in ribbons
1 tbsp Tabasco (if you like spicy, add another tbsp)
1 tbsp Worcester
3 bay leaves
2 tsp black pepper
1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
1 cup uncooked farro

To Do

Prepare quinoa according to package instructions. Typically, you will need 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa, bring it to a boil, simmer covered for 20 minutes or until fluffy

Heat large soup pan with olive oil at medium heat

Add onions and garlic cloves

Sautee for approximately 5 minutes or until translucent

Add in the chopped mushrooms and cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. You'll notice the mushrooms will shrink down considerably and an inch or so of water will fill the pan

Add in stock, salt, basil, Tabasco, Worcester, bay leaves, quinoa and black pepper and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat

Take out bay leaves

Blend with either your immersion blender for 5-7 minutes or put in batches in your standing blender until you've blended approximately 1/2 of the broth/mushroom concoction

Add in 1 cup uncooked farro and bring up heat to medium-high

A mild boil should ensue shortly thereafter - boil for 15 minutes or until farro is slightly al dente

Serve immediately or cool and store

Brief Demonstration of How to Chiffonade so You Look Uber Fancy Schmancy

Step 1: take a pile of pretty greens and stack them flatly on top of each other
Step 2: roll said pretty greens like you see the cigar-men rolling up their cubans in Mexico. Don't crush them as they're awfully sensitive and bruise Natasha Bedingfield
Step 3: say your goodbyes and draw and quarter the buggers
Step 4: admire your pretty little ribbons
Back at the Ranch...

Pretty cooked quinoa. Quinoa is a glorious South American seed (It is NOT a grain. All Jews may rejoice for Passover and all Celiac sufferers can join in) that is jam packed not only with the standard mass amounts of dietary fiber you see in brown rice and barley but also serves as its own complete protein source. What is not to love? Nothing, I tell you.
Gah-lic and onions - ne'er the two shall part
I used four lovely mushroom varieties because each is unique in its own right and brings exciting and individualistic flavors to the pot. They're like my little kindergarten students. I love them. You may use however many different varieties you like to add up to the 4 lbs.
I know, 4 lbs of mushrooms actually is just as much as it sounds like. They will take over your kitchen like weeds to a garden. But then you'll find they're like the pretty dandelion weeds that actually serve another amazing purpose and you'll love them again.
It's shocking how bloated they are. Wouldn't it be a different kind of wonderful if we could be put in a warm bath of olive oil and garlic and come out significantly less bloated in minutes?
I used 15 cups broth initially but felt it was too brothy. If you want a brothier soup as opposed to a creamier one, add in the additional cup.
See how nice our little ribbons and spices make the mushrooms look?
There's always one bay leaf that takes entirely too long to find. But alas, you absolutely must take these out at all costs prior to blending or serving. If all else fails, let me know, and I'll send my Uncle D over to take care of it. He's like the pied piper only for bay leaves. Look at this little rebel. He even has the hoop earring to match his tortured soul.
Quick Tip - if it's 9PM and you and your mother want to go to sleep already but the soup isn't cool enough to store, put it in an ice bath in your sink for 20 minutes and it will be good to go.
Do any dishes haunt your dreams?

Don't forget to vote in our poll this week. Right up there to the right.

Happy National Soup Month to you and yours.

1 comment:

  1. I now have that Natasha Bedingfield song on my brain and really want to make this. YUM!