Thursday, November 29, 2007

Une Affaire de L'estomac

My sister and I used to do a lot of jigsaw puzzles together. Since we had a limited number of puzzles we did the same ones over and over again and got pretty good at them. We learned that in the bird puzzle the one piece that was dark green and looked like feathers was actually a piece of a pine branch that the goldfinch was sitting on. And the one really red piece didn't go with the cardinal, it was the ruby-throated hummingbird's throat. We could throw together a 750 piece puzzle in an afternoon. Unless there was a missing piece. A missing piece messed everything up.

This happens to me in cooking a lot. Whether I knew I had nutmeg (but didn't) or have no idea what an ingredient is, let alone how to pronounce it to ask for it at the store, missing an ingredient is frustrating.

Recently, I saw a beautiful soup on Nook and Pantry that called, nay, sang to me. I like mushroom soup, but this one was promising a torrid love affair. It had chantarelles. Ooh la la, an affair with a French mushroom soup? Yes, the possibility stayed with me.

And then, just as I thought I'd overcome that temptation, it happened. Right there in Costco, in the chilly produce section. I didn't care that other people were watching. I went weak in the knees and succumbed to the package of fresh chantarelles. Throwing caution (and budget) to the wind, I picked up the chantarelles and the crimini's* next to it. I was making soup!

But then, when I got home and printed out the recipe, I hit a snag. A major snag. According to the recipe, her delicious soup owed it's flavor to dried porcini mushrooms. Argh! They didn't have those at Costco. Or Safeway. Or Trader Joe's. Or Whole Foods. I knew when I couldn't get it at Whole Foods, I was out of luck. I was even willing to pay Whole Paycheck prices, but they were out.

But I was determined now to have my soup. Those lovely mushrooms would not rot in my fridge for lack of porcinis. I turned to my trusted Splendid Soups and it did not fail me. The soup was breathtakingly beautiful and and slid over the tongue like a gossamer curtain of creamy mushroom flavor. My whole family inhaled it and made happy, contented noises. Aaaaaahhhhh. It was as satisfying as finding the missing puzzle piece and putting it in place to complete the picture.

Wild Mushroom Soup
adapted from Splendid Soups by James Peterson

1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 quart chicken, vegetable or dried porcini broth
8 oz. fresh crimini mushrooms, rinsed and dried
8 oz. fresh chantarelles, carefully rinsed and dried
1 cup heavy cream
Good salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped

Prepare a velouté base by cooking the onion in butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, stirring almost continuously to prevent browning. When the onion turns translucent, after about 10 minutes, add the flour and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes more to cook out the starchy taste.

Add the sherry and broth, whisking the soup to get rid of any lumps, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Put the mushrooms in a blender and add 1 cup of the hot soup base. Blend the mushrooms on high speed for about 2 minutes, adding a little more soup base if necessary to get them moving, and blend till smooth.

Put a strainer over the pot and pour the contents of the blender through it into the pot with the rest of the base. Add the cream. If you want the soup perfectly smooth, strain it through a medium- or fine-mesh strainer. Bring the soup back to a simmer and season it with salt and pepper. Ladle it into hot bowls and put a dollop of whipped cream on each serving.

Serves 8

* Criminis are actually baby Portabello mushrooms. It's just size and marketing that separate them. Interesting, no?


Katie Zeller said...

Lovely soup...too bad you couldn't find the procinis... or not!
I really love your mug photo! I want that cup for my winter morning coffee/chocolate!
BTW, I have children's books, too... sans children. And I love C.S. Lewis!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You are always a marvel to me Lynn, how you weave your story into the recipe!
Looks like there was no need for the "missing puzzle piece."
I'm with Katie, I like the mug!

Anonymous said...

You make me laugh! I am glad you found your mushrooms! The soup looks wonderful!

Gigi said...

I love mushroom soup, droooool. It's looks so creamy. I know "off camera" there's a nice piece of bread dying to get dunked in the soup.

Anonymous said...

Love mushroom soup & will definitely try this one!

Anonymous said...

Magnifique, and tres yum-yum! Oui, tres interessant champignon, Madame Lynn.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, Lynn, I do that a lot too! And then poor Joao has to run to the grocery store for me. :)

I think you did an excellent job - your soup looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm. That looks *so* yummy.
It's funny that the week I started reading your blog, we both got added to daring bakers... Good luck!

Peabody said...

Mmmm, I could really go for that right now with our cold spell and all! Looks great Lynn.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, home made mushroom soup - alas, one of those dishes I've never tried to make, only eaten the products of others good work! The pictures are wonderful, and making me nostalgic for the cold breath of winter and the bounty of soups available for a diner at many fine eateries around town...its just too hot for soup now (>___<)

Ellie @ Kitchen Wench

SteamyKitchen said...

I hate missing pieces too! But it used to take FOREVER for me and my husband to put together a puzzle. So when we are left with missing pieces, I get so upset I cry -- which is why puzzles with more than 500 pieces are banned from my home

Nora B. said...

Hi Lynn,
I love the photos! And this soup sounds delicious. I know what you mean about missing ingredients. Sometimes it's not because I am losing my memory but because my partner ate it!! Like the time I was going to make a dark choc cake. Guess who ate my chocolate? And the time I wanted to make pesto. Guess who ate my pinenuts? You get the idea...


Anonymous said...

Your soup sounds like just the ticket. I love mushrooms and I love mushroom soup because it's so concentrated.

I gave up jigsaw puzzles ages ago because I ALWAYS ended up with not one, but several, missing pieces. I blamed the kids, the kids blamed the cat... and on it goes.

Ann at Redacted Recipes

Cookie baker Lynn said...

KatieZ - I found that great mug in a thrift store and I'm giving it to my daughter for Christmas. Shhh, don't tell!

My Kitchen In Half Cups - Come over some time and I'll serve you some hot cocoa with whipped cream in that mug.

Maria - So glad I put a laugh in your day!

Gigi - How did you know? Did you peek?

Jep - You won't be disappointed.

Melinda - Ooh, vous parlez le francais. Tres bien!

Patricia - My poor husband, also. They know him better at the grocery store than me.

VeggieLove - Way to go! Good luck to you as well.

Peabody - Definitely warm soup weather.

Ellie - It's so odd to have you say it's too hot for soup when it snowed here yesterday! I love blogging for the way it reminds me of how big the world is.

SteamyKitchen - Would it make you happy if I sent you all of the extra pieces I find when vacuuming? That way you'd never be short a piece. :-)

Nora - Ha ha, too funny! Not that anything like that has ever happened to me. At all. Not to name names. Ahem.

Ann - It's good that you have a cat to blame. They can't defend themselves and really don't care what you think.