As I was browsing around online a few weeks ago, I bumped into two very nice looking recipes on Cooktoria.com. The first one was a mushroom soup and the second was an eggplant, goat cheese and basil appetizer. Last night, I tackled the mushroom soup and later on this week, I’ll take on the eggplant. If you haven’t visited Cooktoria yet, I suggest you stop by to see what’s going on. Tania is an extremely talented home cook and shares some really fabulous recipes. I enjoy watching what she comes up with and shares with us.
Preparing soup is a challenge. Much of the issue lies with the fact that the flavors need to develop and sometimes, this takes a while. During last night’s preparation, I’ll admit I was skeptical. It was only after a half-hour of the soup simmering on the stove that I turned into a believer. The house began to fill with the scent of rosemary and , oddly enough, mushrooms. It was an interesting mix that transformed into quite the tasty dish. I was fairly shocked. I had no idea that the ingredients I used could end up tasting so good.
For much of my life, I thought little of mushrooms. I usually ate them sliced in salads and they were fairly dry and flavorless. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered their true identities – little nuggets full of jam packed flavor. They truly are unbelievable creatures. The thing is, you need to coax their flavors out. It’s not difficult and it really is worth it. I’ve made a few dishes now that use mushrooms as the primary ingredient and I’ve been surprised each time. A bit of heat, some steaming off, some browning and there you go.
If you’d like to learn more about the miracle of the mighty mushroom, feel free to take a look through these resources:
This is an extremely simple recipe to prepare. It’s almost all prep, so there’s very little kitchen stress involved. In the original post, Tania suggests using a seasoning like Vegeta as an alternative to vegetable stock. I have this item on my list of “must haves” because I’d much rather use only 2 tablespoons of a seasoning (at a cost of about 30 cents) as opposed to 4 quarts of stock that cost around $10.
Below, I’ll give you the ingredients necessary for this recipe. I’ll follow Tania’s list because I increased the volume of much of what I added to my Dutch oven. I have a rather large pot, so I thought it was a good idea to prepare more soup than what the original recipe called for. I like to cook and then eat for the rest of the week. The problem with this is that many folks out there don’t have a Dutch oven as large as the one I have, so I need to stay somewhat moderate.
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Large Chopped Onion (I used sweet)
2 Pounds White Button Mushrooms
1/2 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary Leaves
3 Medium Sized Potatoes (I used Yukon Gold from Maine)
3 Meduim Sized Carrots
1 Cup Wheat Berries, Farro or Barley (I used Farro)
5 Bay Leaves
3 Quarts Vegetable Stock
3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
Note: If you choose a seasoning instead of the stock, use 2 tablespoons and replace the stock volume with water.
Grab a huge pot and a stove and let’s go!
Many recipes suggest that you prep as you cook. Since my method of thinking is somewhat linear, I like to get all the prep out of the way ahead of time. I don’t like to be rushed – especially when I’m cooking. It freaks me out. With that in mind, I went ahead and prepared all my ingredients ahead of time. Remember, I increased my volume of almost everything, so the photos below will show more than what’s called for.
First, I peeled and chopped the carrots. Since this was something that was going to simmer for an hour, I didn’t worry too much about cutting them so their sizes were even. In general, you need to concern yourself with that when sauteing.
Again, I used a sweet onion for this recipe. I think I’m going to be leaning towards these types of onions in the future as the flavor of regular cooking onions can be a bit harsh. I chopped the onion and stored it in a bowl for later use.
Next, I measured out the farro. I used this ingredient because I couldn’t get my hands on wheat berries. I placed them in a bowl for later use as well. The recipe calls for either wheat berries, farro or barley. About 12 hours ago, I had no idea what any of these were. Because of this, I did a bit of research. When cooking, many whole grains are interchangeable, but you do need to know what will end up with the best results. Some have different cooking/soaking times. To learn about the differences in grains, take a look through these sites:
The recipe calls for peeling the potatoes. Since I like skin-on, I didn’t do this. I washed them and chopped them into 3/4 – 1 inch pieces.
After I was finished with the potatoes, I placed all the mushrooms I had in my new colander.
I cleaned them and then sliced them all up. I then returned them to the colander.
Finally, I measured out my 1/2 tablespoon of rosemary. For some reason, Laura and I have an insane amount of dried rosemary, so I felt as though I should use some of it. I was concerned, however, about what it would turn into. For the first half hour of simmering, the leaves just floated on top of the liquid. This made me more concerned. After that though, they absorbed what was in the pot and let out their flavor and fragrance. I can now report that dried rosemary works well with this recipe.
Saute Chopped Onion
I heated the Durch oven slowly over medium heat (you have to be careful with cast iron). Once it was to temperature, I added the 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to it, along with the onion. I used extra-virgin in this recipe because of the relatively low cooking temperatures and the additional flavor it could offer.
I cooked the onions over medium heat for about 10 minutes until they just started to brown.
Add Sliced Mushrooms
Once the onion was ready, I turned the heat to high and added all the sliced mushroom.
I cooked the mushroom over high heat until they released their liquid and it steamed out of the pot. This took approximately 15 minutes. As the moisture evaporates, you can begin to smell what these guys will taste like. Also, it’s at this end point that the mushrooms begin to develop their flavor. Don’t worry so much about cooking past the point of moisture evaporation. You’ll get more flavor out of them if you let them brown somewhat. I would recommend lowering the heat to medium if you plan on doing this though.
Once the mushrooms finished steaming off, I added the potatoes, carrots, farro, bay leaves and rosemary.
I then stirred everything together.
After everything was mixed, I added the 3 quarts of vegetable stock.
Boil & Simmer Ingredients
I placed the Dutch oven on my stove and brought everything to a boil over high heat. Once there, I lowered the heat to medium and let it simmer, uncovered, for an hour. This is when I began to smell what I was in store for. Once the soup was finished cooking, I mixed the 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour well into a half cup of cold water. I then added that mixture to the soup and stirred it in.
I’m happy with the results. Because of my additional ingredients, I ended up with over a gallon of delicious soup that will last us about half a week. That’s some good eating!
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