Today I feel very lucky, because I have a job interview. Not only JUST a job interview, but one at a place where I’d be lucky (to say the least) to start my career. Also, one of Jake’s friends from Alaska flew through Arizona, stopping on his way to New Orleans for some much-needed R&R. This means that Jake spent the beginning of the week hanging out in Phoenix before (blessedly) coming home to help me pack up for our trip to Albuquerque, which we’ll be heading out on from my interview, and to quiz me on interview questions. You already know (unless you don’t) that when Jake leaves I make sure I get a chance to do all of the Eriny things that he does not like to do. One of those things is listen to jazz music. I don’t know why he doesn’t ever want to listen to jazz. He doesn’t seem to hate it, perhaps just not prefer it. Another one of those things is eat food with mushrooms in it.I am very careful with mushroom consumption. I will eat your normal white button mushroom, your Portobello, a shiitake here and there. I also have a very serious allergy or SOMETHING like that to many other kinds of mushrooms that I discovered while living in China. Two bowls of mushroom soup (with at least 5 different kinds in it), two weeks spent writhing in and out of pain on my bed and a very necessary hospital visit later, and I was fully convinced that I needed to stay away from most other fungi. This is why you never see enoki or oyster mushrooms on my blog. They were in that bowl of soup. I’m terrified to eat them again. Luckily this recipe for cream of mushroom soup only calls for our delicious white button mushrooms, which I have been eating, without incident, for my entire life. I’ve been waiting for the moment to try this recipe from the “Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking” and when Jake left for Phoenix I went to the store and bought 2 pounds of mushrooms (more mushroom recipes coming next week, Christmas or no). This is a recipe I altered. It wanted me to blend at least half of it. We’ve talked about how I feel people rely on blenders way too much. Dice your mushrooms as small as you can. If you have a kid old enough to use a knife reliably this is their moment to shine. I LOVED this soup without blending it. I mashed it a bit for good measure, but honestly, it wouldn’t even need that if you’ve cut your mushrooms up tiny enough. I actually ate the leftovers the next day at work alongside some nice buttery couscous. Heaven.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 pound white mushrooms
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons dried basil
salt and black pepper
1. Finely slice and chop 3/4 of the mushrooms. Reserving the last few for the moment.
2. Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion and chopped mushrooms. Fry 2 minutes, stirring, then cover and sweat the mushrooms for another 6 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally.
3. Stir in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes.
4. Gradually add the stock and milk, alternating, and stir to make a thin sauce.
5. Add the basil, salt and pepper and stir well to incorporate.
6. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer, partly covered for 15 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, slice the reserved mushrooms and fry them in the remaining butter in a small saucepan till tender but still slightly firm. Set aside.
8. Cool the soup slightly and, using a potato masher, mash the contents of the soup pot a bit.
9. Either stir in the sliced mushrooms and heat up again till very hot or heat the soup up on without the sliced butter-fried mushrooms and use them to top the soup (as I did in my photo) with a swirl of the butter. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve immediately.