Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cremini Créme Soup

I'm getting a big list of soup links together from my backlogged bookmarks folder, but since this soup actually got made and consumed (and loved)... it gets a post all its own. It deserves it. This soup knocked my thick woolen winter socks off.

Initially I had doubts, but was won over in the end by an amazing complexity of flavor that was created from a few unusual ingredients. Like a good mystery novel with 4 or 5 different story-lines going in different directions, this soup kept me guessing the whole time as to how all the elements would finally work together to a satisfying end. It all wrapped up nicely, in fact deliciously so, and I'm ever so glad of it.

Earthy and dark, and yet delicate and bright. Perfect for a cold winter's eve...
Cremini Créme Soup 
adapted from page 75 in The Whole Foods Market Cookbook (2002)

2 Tblsp bacon fat
1 Tblsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 med. yellow onion, chopped
20 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup flour
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
3-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 glugs of vermouth (or scotch)
zest and juice of 1 small Meyer lemon
sea salt & ground pepper

Heat up the bacon fat and olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. Sauté the onion until softened and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté them for a couple minutes. Next, add the flour and mix in with the vegetables as it cooks for another minute longer.

Pour the vegetable stock into the pot, stirring well. Bring to a boil and keep stirring. Once the mixture thickens, drop the temp down to a simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes.

Now add the cream, the fresh thyme, and the nutmeg. Simmer this for another 10 minutes or so. Pour in the booze and add the lemon zest and juice. Give it a good stir, then add the salt and pepper and stir it some more to combine everything. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Makes about 6 servings.

Notes: I used bacon fat that I saved from cooking bacon (pour it through a doubled paper towel into a jar and keep in the fridge). I make vegetable stock all the time so I always have it available in my freezer. The fresh thyme, we grow on the patio. I am mystified as to why the lemon juice doesn't curdle the cream. Didn't quite have enough vermouth, so I added a bit of scotch as well, and it worked great. 

*The original recipe called itself a "bisque". Traditionalists would argue that it isn't. I couldn't bring myself to call this a "cream of mushroom" soup though... it's so much more.
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