Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Day After the Reunion: Cream of Mushroom Soup

It has been a busy weekend; all kinds of fun stuff went on.  First, there was Thanksgiving, the ultimate food holiday.  Then, we spent a fun evening with friends, eating pizza and staying out very late.  Finally, I attended my 25th high school reunion last night, which was a riot.  I graduated from a private, Catholic high school in the city where I grew up.  My high school experience was probably very typical for that time; the fun I had was relatively innocent, certainly by today's standards, and there was an amazing sense of community.

There are some people who do not enjoy reunions; I am not one of them.  Whenever I can look back on a period of time in my life and find the good memories, I am happy to do so.  I had a really fun time catching up with old friends, some of whom I had gone to elementary school with as well. It was very entertaining to recount some of the old stories, and even more entertaining to hear some of the stories of things that happened that I didn't know about at the time.  With many of the people I saw at the reunion, conversations were as easy as if we had not gone five, ten, or twenty years without seeing each other; we just picked up where we had left off.  Next to the time that my friend Lisa and I crashed my sister's 20th high school reunion, it was probably the most fun I have had at one of these things. 

Of course last night proved in many ways that I am not as young as I once was, and I am tired. The upcoming weeks will be hectic ones, as we prepare for more holiday celebrations, and  I need a day to just chill. The best way I know to do that is to make a pot of soup, and maybe a loaf of homemade bread, and lounge on the couch with my two daughters, my husband and the two dogs, and watch all the movies we taped this week while HBO was free.  So that is exactly what we are doing.  And as we have decided to eat a little more healthy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, today is sort of our last hurrah in the decadent food department.  This soup isn't so bad for you. It just has a little half and half, and it is so good, I am hungry just thinking about it.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

For the broth:
1 small handful of dried mushrooms (I used dried porcini)
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups water

Place the stock and the dried mushrooms in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Cook until the stock is reduced by half.  Let cool, and strain the dried mushrooms using a fine strainer.  Discard dried mushrooms.

For the mushrooms:
3 8-ounce containers of mushrooms, any type you like (I use a mix of cremini, baby bella, and    white), cleaned and sliced
1/2 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock

Saute the mushrooms, and onions in the olive oil until they just begin to brown.  Add the garlic, stir for a minute, and then deglaze the pan with the wine or chicken stock. 

To assemble the soup:
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chives (optional)

In a large pot, melt the butter, and add the flour, stirring with a whisk until the mixture begins to brown slightly.  Add the mushroom stock little by little, whisking as you go to incorporate.  Bring up to medium heat, and add the half and half, continuing to stir.  Reduce heat to simmer, then add the mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Let simmer for at least a half hour, until the soup thickens just a little and all the flavors are blended.  Serve with fresh chives, if desired, and a slice of hot, fresh bread.

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