saturday soup and sewing

We woke up this morning to another windy and rainy day here in E-town. Thankfully, I had a yummy soup and long anticipated project all lined up and ready to go. So, while the weather may have been less than ideal, J and I had a lovely little domestic day in.

When J and I got married I hated mushrooms. As a young child I apparently loved eating raw mushrooms, but from adolescence onward I viewed mushrooms as gross, slimy things to be avoided at all cost. (I had a particularly awful sautéed mushroom encounter in Santiago, Chile when I was 17…) However, J grew up loving mushrooms and his family had them often, so as a new member of the family I decided to just go ahead and give them a try. And guess what? They weren’t bad. In fact I really liked them raw, and as the years have gone by my love of mushrooms has only grown. I now love them in any form and J and I enjoy them so much we are gearing up for this next fall, and once we return to the states plan to buy a couple of these. I know there must be others of you out there scarred from early childhood experiences of poorly cooked mushrooms, or even worse mushroom soup from a can (bleh!). I promise you this recipe is so much better than any other mushroom soup you’ve tried that it may just be able to win over even the most skeptic mushroom-haters. So, don’t hate, cook! I think you’ll be really glad you did.

Mushroom Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Ingredients

  • 15 ounces fresh mushrooms (try a combo of whatever is fresh at the farmer’s market, or a mix of shiitake, portobello, and cremini… really any mixture will do, you could even use dried mushrooms in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly cleaned (2 leeks)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • lemon

Directions

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water. (I know this step seems like a lot of effort, and if you really have to you could use store bought vegetable stock. However, this stock is absolutely gorgeous and is a large part of what makes this soup so delicious, I highly recommend trying it!)
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two more. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot and garnish with the following: Mix together a pinch of salt and pepper with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of it. Drizzle the soup with a drop or two of truffle oil and place a slice of grilled crostini topped with a bit of the lemon zest mixture on top of the ladled soup. Delish!

Laundry Sacks x 2!

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will be well aware that space in our little flat is at a premium. For a long time now J and I have been trying to figure out a better way to store our dirty clothes as there isn’t room for a proper laundry basket. The default became an awful florescent pink Rubbermaid tub that we used for shipping stuff over here when we first moved. A complete eyesore. But thanks to an easy pattern out of this book, the Rubbermaid is no more! (This book has lot’s of great ideas, but I’ve found the directions a bit cumbersome… better for those with a bit of sewing experience.) Our laundry has now found a nice new home on the back door to our wee box room. And our bedroom just gained back some highly prized floor space. Success!