Creamy Chanterelle Soup

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'Tis the season for wild mushrooms, and I will happily shell out $10/lb for Chanterelles at the PSU Farmer's Market while they are in such abundance. When trying to decide what I wanted to do with Saturday's chanterelle stockpile so I could buy more at the Wednesday market, I searched the internets for ideas thinking, “I should do something other than a soup. Evvvvvveryone makes a soup out of chanterelles.” However, when I clicked on a link for (surprise!) chanterelle soup, the blogger concluded this soup was no less than sex-in-a-bowl, in fact, orgasmic. I quickly retorted to the blogger (who I’m sure heard me talking out loud to myself in my kitchen, right?) “Well, guess I might as well take it however I can get it, even in soup form, since I doubt I’ll be having that for a while.” -See previous post about divorce.- After I made myself laugh and figured my mother would be properly scandalized at calling anything sex-in-a-bowl, I decided I was going to make not-just-any-old-chanterelle-soup, but sex-in-a-bowl-soup.  I followed the instructions for making the veloute but skipped the step for creating an egg yolk liaison because I thought it was plenty creamy enough once I sent it through the blender, even before I added some actual cream.  Did it live up to it’s name? Or would it have lived up to it’s name if I’d only thrown in the 3 egg yolks alongside the cream? Well, honestly, I think pureed mushrooms are still a poor substitute for the real thing, but as far as soups go, it was quite smooth and delicious. I certainly recommend eating it, just don’t get your hopes up that high.

Also, since there’s only so many ways one can photograph a bowl of cream soup, the kitty thought it needed more whiskers and fur to liven it up a bit.

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  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound fresh chanterelles, quickly rinsed but not submerged in cold running water, then wipe off any pine needles or other debris with a paper towel, plus extra handful of cleaned chanterelles to thinly slice and saute and serve on top as a garnish
  • 2 medium-sized shallots
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup Madeira (or Brandy, though you probably would use less. I used Madeira because it’s what I had available, and I also didn’t exactly measure the amount…mwhahahaha)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt to taste

In a medium-sized pot, heat the butter until melted and whisk in the flour. Keep whisking for a few minutes but do not brown. This step of equal parts flour and butter used to thicken sauces or soups is called a roux. You cook the flour so it won’t have a raw-flour taste, but combining it with the butter also makes it easier to incorporate a liquid without ending up with a sad, lumpy sauce or soup.

Whisk the broth sloooowlllllly into the roux. Start off with just a little bit, whisk whisk whisk, then keep adding the broth a little at a time until it starts to look more like a liquid and less like flour and butter. Then you can add the rest of the broth a lot faster now. Let this simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often. You want it to slowly cook down by at least 1/3 and be silky looking. Congratulations, you made veloute, one of the French Mother Sauces! (Thank you, thank you, Cooking 2: Sauces, Soups and Stocks class at Midwest Culinary Institute).

While the veloute is simmering, dice the mushrooms and shallots. You don’t need to be too picky about the size of the mushrooms and shallots, as you will puree the soup later. In a large-sized pot, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring often, on medium heat until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have released all their liquid and it has evaporated.

Crumble the saffron into the Madeira and add it to the mushroom mixture. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the Madeira has mostly evaporated.

Pour in the hot, thickened stock (the veloute) and let the soup simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. At this step, I then refrigerated the soup overnight and pureed it the next morning while it was cold, though it’s okay to puree it while hot, just be very careful to not splash hot soup on yourself, and hold onto the lid for dear life (remove the little center doodad and cover the hole with a kitchen towel as a precaution against exploding hot soup), or puree the soup with an immersion blender, though I found it to not be as smooth as using a regular blender.

Pour the mushroom puree back into the soup pot, and add the cream (you could probably use whole milk to save a few creamy calories, though I decided not to….)

If you want a mushroom garnish, which I highly recommend for the textural contrast, thinly slice a few chanterelles lengthwise and saute them over medium-high heat with a little extra butter until they are lightly browned and tender. Sprinkle the sauteed mushrooms and the fresh chopped parsley on top of each bowl of soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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Living in Portland in the winter, chances are fairly high every day that it is going to be gray, rainy, gray, cold, gray, and did I mention gray? We had about a week of glorious sunshine, albeit with temperatures hovering around 30, but we’re back to the rain and gloom. Rain and gloom produces a deep longing for a piping hot bowl of soup, and since chances are fairly high you may also be suffering from a cold or ÜBERFLU this time of year, what better way to comfort yourself than by making a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup?

You can go all sorts of fancy with this and make your own stock and your own egg noodles like I did, or for a quicker version, use store-bought chicken broth and noodles.  I just happened to have 2 chicken backbones in the freezer asking to be made into stock, and a bag full of dried homemade egg noodles (leftover from making pappardelle with beef short rib ragu last week) sitting on the counter, but I’ve made the quicker version many times and it’s still tasty.

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For a ‘cheater’ quick chicken stock:

1 Tbsp olive oil

chicken backbones or other pieces

1 large, unpeeled carrot, roughly chopped

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 tsp dried thyme, or several fresh sprigs thyme if you have it

several sprigs fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add an assortment of chopped bone-in chicken pieces or as I did, 2 backbones previously cut from a whole chicken carcass and frozen.  Cook over medium heat until deeply browned, then flip and brown on the other side as well. Add in roughly chopped large onion, roughly chopped  carrot, and 2 roughly chopped stalks of celery (these vegetables will be strained out after the stock is finished, so there’s no need to peel or chop them finely) and cook until they start to turn brown around the edges. Add in 1 quart (4 cups) water and the peppercorns, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves (I put the herbs/peppercorns inside a little disposable spice bag so they would be easy to remove from the stock). Be sure to scrape any browned tasty bits off the bottom of the pot (brown bits= tasty, rich flavor).  Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium-low and let the stock simmer for about 45-60 minutes, or until the stock is a nice golden brown and the chicken-y aroma is making your mouth water.  Strain the stock to remove all of the vegetables, herbs, and the chicken.  If there are little bits of chicken on the backbones, make sure to get those off (use a fork if it’s too hot to touch) and add to your soup. This should make about a quart of chicken stock, which isn’t a ton, but to make a good bit of stock you would want to simmer it for at least 4 hours and I was doing a short-cut version where I combined it with some store-bought chicken broth.

To finish your soup:

2 small-medium onions, small dice

2 medium peeled carrots, small dice

3 medium stalks of celery, small dice

3-6 cloves garlic (I used 6 because they shoot a lot of vampire shows in Portland so you never know who’s going to show up here…)

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (they have a lot more flavor and will not dry out like chicken breasts do if overcooked), chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 quart homemade chicken stock + 1 quart store-bought chicken stock (or all store-bought), fat skimmed off the homemade stock as much as possible

8 oz dried egg noodles, homemade or storebought

freshly ground black pepper to taste

kosher salt to taste (the amount you’ll need depends upon how salty your broth is, so taste the finished soup before adding more salt)

optional lemon juice to squeeze over finished soup

optional chopped cilantro or parsley

(also tasty with a fresh grating of parmigiano reggiano on top of the soup)

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If you’re making your own chicken stock, while it is cooking, heat another 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a second saucepan or skillet. Add the chopped boneless, skinless chicken thighs and sauté until golden brown. Add in the diced onion, celery, and carrots and sauté until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Pour in the 2 quarts of stock plus 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Add in the 8 oz of egg noodles and cook according to package directions (or for homemade, mine took about 4-5 minutes) until al dente.  Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro or parsley and/or a squeeze of lemon juice and grating of parmigiano reggiano.

Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

Did I mention it’s soup weather here in Portland? Not to mention that I am fighting a cold, so that’s like double bonus points for soup.  I picked up a large bunch of curly kale and some hot Italian sausage at the farmer’s market yesterday, which then made me think of the 6 little orphan potatoes kicking around on my countertop, which then made me buy a baguette at the Pearl Bakery stand as I began to formulate a kale, sausage, and potato soup. Again, soup is very versatile, so don’t be afraid to change up ingredients. Sometimes if I don’t have potatoes, I’ll drain and rinse 2 cans of cannellini or northern beans and add them to the kale and sausage. Also tasty.

1 1/4 lbs Italian sausage (I used pork, but turkey is good too), removed from the casings

1 large onion, small dice

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 small potatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds

4 cups chicken broth

1 large bunch of curly kale, leaves stripped from the stalks and torn into bite-size pieces

I included the kale stalks in the picture so you could see what I meant about stripping off all the leaves. I don’t use them in the soup, but if you absolutely must, they will take more time to cook than the leaves so add them with the potatoes.

Heat a 6 quart pot over medium heat. If you use turkey Italian sausage, you might want to add a Tbsp of olive oil, but I didn’t add any because I used pork sausage and it had plenty of it’s own fat.  Add the sausage to the pot and break it up into small pieces. Cook until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to further break up the meat and brown all the pieces evenly. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the chicken broth and potatoes and bring the liquid to a boil before turning down to medium-low and simmering until the potatoes start to soften, about 10 minutes.  

Add the kale- it will seem like a ton of greens and you’ll be wondering why I told you to add so much, but greens always cook down so add them all anyways and put the lid on the pot just for a minute or two until the kale has started to wilt down and now you can stir it without pieces of kale flying everywhere.  Cook until the kale is tender, about 7-10 minutes.  I did not add any extra salt to this soup because the sausage and broth were already salty. So taste your soup before you add salt. Serve with a lovely baguette and perhaps a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Potato Leek Soup

When the days are rainy and gloomy, there are a few choices to be made. You could huddle over your blue light box and sob uncontrollably until the sun comes out again in July, oooooor you could try to make the best of it by making warm, comforting soups that always taste even better after you’ve come inside and shed the wet rain coat and boots and maybe had a mug of coffee or hot tea. This potato leek soup is one I’ve been making for awhile, but I usually never measure my ingredients. This means that once you’ve got down the basics, a pot of soup is normally pretty forgiving so you can add or subtract things as you desire. Love garlic? Add more.  Don’t have any vampires to ward off? Add less.  Hate leeks? Use yellow onion….etc etc. 

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp butter

2 medium-size leeks, white and light green part only

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1 ½ in pieces

2 cups less-sodium chicken broth or water

2 cups whole milk

salt and pepper to taste

garnishes: crumbled crispy bacon, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, chopped chives

This is what happens when you photograph on the floor.

A word about leeks: Cut off the root end of the leek and then cut again between the light green portion and the dark green stalk. Discard the dark green stalk, and peel off the outer layer of the remaining white/light green portion of the leek (The outer layer can get tough). Slice the leek into quarters lengthwise and then dice them. Also, they are diiiirty. They can have sand & grit trapped inside the little rings, which is not the flavor of soup we’re shooting for here, so I always swish the chopped leeks around in a bowl full of water to loosen any dirt before I lift out the leeks, leaving the dirt behind in the bottom of the bowl.

In a large pot (6 qt is the size I used), melt the butter over medium heat, then add the leeks. The goal is to soften them, not brown them, so turn the heat to medium-low. Add the minced garlic and stirring occasionally, continue to cook the leeks until soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and the chicken broth or water and some salt (I added 1 tsp kosher salt at this stage), and turn up the heat again to medium so the liquid starts to come to a boil before you turn it back down to medium-low so the soup will simmer rather than boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. I like to have soups with at least some texture to them, so I don’t puree this soup; rather, I use my potato masher to mash it up until it reaches a thicker consistency with small pieces of potato still visible.

Heat up the milk (either in a small saucepan or in a measuring cup in the microwave) until almost boiling. The reason for this is if you add cold milk to a very hot liquid, chances are high the milk will curdle. It won’t ruin the taste of your soup, but it will look a little funny. Add the milk to the pot, then add more salt to taste (I added about ½ tsp more) and a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper.

Sprinkle the chopped chives on top.  Either eat it this way and be perfectly happy with it, or if you’re concerned it doesn’t have enough calories, top it with crumbled cooked bacon and/or shredded sharp cheddar. It’s ok, I won’t judge.