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Hot soup for cold nights. January 7, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. If, like me and our friend Ben, you’ve been caught up in the so-called “polar vortex” bringing unheard-of cold sweeping out of the Arctic, you might feel justified in having a rich, decadent, easy-to-make stay-home meal while cozying up by the fire with a nice, big glass of cabernet.

OFB and I love thick, rich soups and stews in the winter, but normally, we’re talking about black bean soup, lentil stew, curried pumpkin soup, dal, and other healthful treats. But when the temperatures plunge into the minuses, it’s time to pull out all the stops and make cream of mushroom soup.

No, I’m not talking about that gloppy, floury, gelatinous gunk that comes in a can. It’s so easy to make your own, and once you do, you’ll see why it was revered as a luxury soup before that wretched can came along.

This luscious soup is rich enough to be a meal in itself, served up with a nice, crunchy salad and some thinly cut slices of lightly toasted, buttered baguette. I’d suggest adding some bitter greens like frisee and radicchio and some peppery greens like arugula and watercress to the salad, along with sliced hot radishes, to offset the richness of the soup, and use a minimalist vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing. The crunchiness of the baguette slices will also offset the creamy richness of the soup.

To make the soup, simply saute a large diced sweet onion (such as Vidalia or WallaWalla) in butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven (I love my LeCreuset Dutch ovens). Then add mushrooms—lots of mushrooms. I like to add a large (16-ounce) carton of button mushrooms, a small (8-ounce) carton of baby bella mushrooms, an 8-ounce package of mixed “gourmet” mushrooms, an 8-ounce carton of shiitake mushrooms, and any other mushrooms that happen to be in the grocery and catch my eye (oysters are favorites, but we’re seldom able to find them).

Slice the mushrooms and add them to the butter and onion with lots of basil, a healthy dash of garam masala, ground fenugreek, salt (we love RealSalt and the hot spiced salt Trocomare), and fresh-cracked black pepper.

Once everything’s cooked down, add a splash of veggie stock or broth, then add a pint of light cream. Stir well and add more veggie stock/broth to create a silky soup base. (I find that any of the boxed veggie stocks/broths are fine.) Pour some Marsala wine in a circle around the perimeter of the soup and stir it in. I like to add a splash of bourbon to kick the soup up even more, but this step is optional. Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve with the crispy buttered baguette slices and salad.

The perfect dessert after a rich soup like this is apple slices, doused with lemon juice, perhaps with grapes and orange slices with pecans and blue cheese. Served with a glass of Sandeman’s Tawny Port, of course. Yum!

‘Til next time,

Silence

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