Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Treebeards' Mushroom Soup

I've been literally been meaning to make this soup for years. I ordered it once at the restaurant when I was feeling a little coldish. Stuffed up, but not enough to stay home from work. I was not expecting the pepper kick and I'll be damned if it didn't completely clear me up. This wasn't a bland cream of mushroom soup, but a blast of flavor and spice with large, delicious chunks of mushrooms.

The only think that held me back was the use of whole milk (or half & half) in the recipe and Channing's hatred of whole mushrooms. Do you see a pattern in what I have to work with here? It's a texture thing, actually.

I knew I needed a soup course for Thanksgiving and I'd made the Eastside's Curried Corn Chowder too many times before (and he doesn't like that, either, because of the whole kernels of corn and the spice). So, I threw this on the menu.

There were enough dishes that anyone who wasn't interested in it wouldn't go hungry (only hurt my feelings), but wanted as many people to enjoy it as possible, of course. I realized that I now have an immersion blender, so I could make it a mix of regular and creamed soup. That way, I could serve the cream-only portion to Channing and still have the basic recipe for us.

Preparation was pretty fast and easy, the hardest part being cleaning 2.5 lbs of mushrooms. I'm pretty fast on these and it still takes about 15 minutes, just for that.

While the result wasn't quite what my 15+ year old memory led me to expect, it was quite good. There was definitely a pepper kick in there which, with the other spices, kept it from being anything like the canned Cream of Mushroom. Most of the heaviness of the liquid was a function of my having blended half of the recipe and using the the half & half itself. I think you could easily go with a lighter milk and it would be fine.

While eating dinner, I did find that there were a few lumps of flour in the mix. They didn't taste too different from the softened mushrooms, so not a big deal, but it was a little embarassing. I need to be more careful with the flour next time. I had made two batches - I'm pretty sure the first was fine, but I was rushing through the second one and I'm willing to bet that I just got careless.

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