Solstice Soup

21 December 2008

Mushroom Soup Ingredients

So I got an email this morning from Maureen…

Hi Heather and Pat,

Just wanted to let you know I received the birthday chocolates in the mail.  What a treat, having treats delivered!  You can never have too much chocolate.

I have also been trying to plan a Christmas meal for Peter and I that is a good vegetarian meal that we don’t usually eat.  I thought of the mushroom barley soup Peter said you used to make that he loved.  I have made the one in the Moosewood cookbook and I was wondering if you used that recipe or a different one.  If you have a minute today or tomorrow could you send it along?(if your share recipes!!!) We would love to have it is a new Follansbee tradition (the kids will probably never eat it but who knows!) Thanks.

Have a great holiday – stay all cuddled up and warm.  We are planning to do the same.



AND…as so often happens in this wonderful life…our worlds, and in this case our cuilinary spirits, weave through and around each other in a delightful dance…

Hey there Maureen,
we were mostly proud of ourselves for remembering when you said that you always wished for them…made us happy.
And, your timing is perfect ! I have a refrigerator full of ingredients to make that mushroom soup tonight…in honor of the longest night of the year.
Hoping that Paul Winter might be doing his Solstice concert in the newly renovated Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC tonight….if the radio covers it that it would be a wonderful evening.
I just spent the morning going through my favorite Vineyard cookbook planning out something simple and yet elegant for our day after with our kids. This year there will only be 4 coming and one is a strict vegan so she’s bringing her own meal. 
OK the soup.
The king of memory has perhaps confused my soup with another because I never added barley…although it would be a very nice tree-hugging addition.
I’ll give you the basic recipe, at least what I aim for, and you can wing it from there.
It will take you longer to read this than to make it.
Prop up your feet, pop a chocolate cherry in your mouth, and off ya go…
Heather’s Mushroom Soup
Mushrooms  ( lots, can’t have too many…I’d say at least 6-8 cups sliced…right now I have two of those big containers from the grocery store, and if you want to add some of the wild and wooly kind that are certainly available in your neck of the woods go right ahead…just don’t let the kids pick them.  AND don’t wash them ! They are little sponges and you will have a watery mess in a soup. Just wipe off the biggest clods of dirt…the rest is good for ya )
Leeks   ( 3 or 4 depending on the size )
Shallots  (don’t really need them and they are expensive right now so I didn’t get them this time but they do add a lovely layer of rich flavor)
Flour ( can use whole wheat if you want but it does make it a bit grittier )
Chicken or Vegetable stock  (now adays I use the ones that are organic and come in a juicy juice kinda box)
Cream  ( and here I show my age and use the gift from the gods…fat free half and half…. though you wouldn’t know it to look at me….it is my favorite new diet food ingredient…guilt free and creamy !)                   
Prepare the ingredients….
this part takes the most time and involves some knife work so you might want to send Papa and the babes out for a long walk.
You probably have a favorite way to clean your leeks. I just cut the roots off, cut the tops off…leaving as much of the green as you can if in good shape, then I slice it in half lengthwise and rinse the hell out of it. Chop it all up into little pieces.
Slice all those mushrooms up. Same sized pieces. 1/8 ” wide.  I know, I know…there’s the time factor. Put on some good music and it goes faster.
Slice shallots if you’re feeling rich…same size.
Get a big pot.
Put about half a stick of butter in and let it melt over medium heat.
Throw in the leeks and shallots and saute over medium heat until soft. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat just to make this part go faster…you want the juices to come out slowly and blend into the butter.
It’s all about the butter.
When you got them good and limp but not burnt…add the mushrooms and let them do the same thing…release their moisture and soften but not cook all the way to mush.
That whole sauteeing bit might take 20-30 minutes.
When it looks like they are congealing nicely you sprinkle some flour over the mixture…maybe 1/4 cup but not much more…and stir that in and let it cook a little bit.
Then you add the stock.
Anywhere from 3-6 cups and I know that’s a wide spread but it depends on how many of the leeks and mushrooms you start with. Remembering that you will finish this off with some cream, and that it will reduce down…it’s much easier to add more than take some away.
NOW you can turn down the heat and walk away…or clean up the mess you made so far.
Let that simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Don’t boil it though. You are just reducing the liquid and melding the flavors all together.
Then, here’s the tricky bit.
IF you have a cuisinart, and I still have my original one which has been much abused but is a trooper,  you will now transfer the soup from the pot to the food processor in small batches and chop.
IF you do not have said processor you could use a blender but you don’t want baby food here, just a fine chop.
IF you have neither then don’t worry about it. Same exact taste. It’s just a texture thing and I usually make an unholy mess at this stage anyway so you can absolutely save yourself the trouble and go on to the last step.
Return whatever mixture you decide on to a medium heat and…
Add cream. 
As much as you want without it getting too thin. 1/2 cup to 2 cups. ( I like a super creamy soup so I usually add less stock in the beginning (more like 2-3 cups) and add more cream in the end…but Pat doesn’t like it too creamy so once a year I go for the cream and otherwise thin it down )
Serve with some kick ass bread and cheese.
That’s IT !!!!
When you go to reheat just make sure not to boil. Nuking is ok but I prefer slow warm ups on the stove top.
But then I don’t have those beautiful children clinging to my apron strings.
We only got a spitting of snow…ugh…but we are snuggly all the same and tonight I will head home on the early side to make soup and sit by the fire with my babe…and if I’ve left anything out I will email you an update tomorrow. It’s all in my head so you never know.
Love to all your sugar plum fairies…





One thought on “Solstice Soup

  1. Eeeaaaauuuuggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    Late as usual. Why didn’t I jump on your blog YESTERDAY?
    This would have been the perfect soup for the gathering of our offspring and their offspring at our house tomorrow for our Christmas Eve festivities. We’ll be missing Anthony, so we will number thirteen. Oh well. There will be another time……………..
    Happy happy holiday, Heather and Pat.
    Love your snowflakes (since we seldom get the real thing here in York County)
    Stay cozy, friends.