Here’s the deal, guys: it is spring break and it’s snowing and I’m upset. Because the only times the words snow and spring break should be in the same sentence is when the word mountains, or possibly skiing, is there too.
Clearly, the only way to comfort myself was to make soup.
But I have another reason to make soup. See, I started reading Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking and so far, I’ve learned that I am doing everything wrong. For starters, I’ve been chopping onions wrong. I have burning eyes and the tears running down my cheeks to prove it. You need to leave the root attached while you chop. Also, I’ve been sautéing all wrong. Did you know that when you’re using butter to sauté, you need to add a bit of oil to stabilize it so it will reach a proper heat without burning? Of course you did, you’ve probably read Julia Child already.
I needed to put this new knowledge to use. And, while there is a recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup in the book, it looked….complicated. Whisking in egg yolks? Making your own stock? Sorry, Jules, not ready for that yet. Then, I remembered a recipe I’d pinned a while back for mushroom soup that looked simple, quick, and good. This is more my style, I thought. I made a quick trip to the grocery store to get a buttload of mushrooms. And at that grocery store, I discovered my own hypocrisy when it comes to vegetables.
You know how in the produce section, right next to the bagged lettuce, there are little containers of already chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc? I’ve always looked at those and judged people who bought them as exceedingly lazy. I mean, really, who’s life is so busy that you can’t take the time to chop an onion? No one’s. But there, under those fluorescent grocery lights, I became one of those people. See, the price for a container of the whole mushrooms or a container of the sliced mushrooms was the exact same, and, to my estimation, you can fit more in the box when sliced. At first, it was all about value, I promise! But then I got home, and realized just how long it would have taken to slice five cups of mushrooms. (Have I mentioned how lacking my knife skills are? And reading Julia Child has thrown this into even sharper relief; apparently some people can slice 3 lb. of mushrooms in five minutes. I am not one of those people.)
Five cups of mushrooms is no joke. Look at this! Anyway, I roughly chopped them into slightly smaller pieces and went on my merry, sautéing, way. No one was the wiser. (Except you, reading this post. Shh, don’t tell.)
I guess, after all this chatter, I should probably say something about what the soup is like, yes? First of all, I want to be clear that it does not in any way resemble the gloppy canned cream of mushroom soup you put in green bean casserole. Gross, no. This soup? It is a flavorful, creamy, warm-you-up kind of soup. The fresh thyme adds a herby, complex fragrance, the mushrooms and onions give you something to chew on, and the heavy cream makes the broth worthy of sopping up with a piece of bread. It is the perfect remedy to an unexpected, unwelcome snow day.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Adapted from Season With Spice
5 cups fresh mushrooms – cleaned and chopped (I used a mix of white button and baby portabella)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 tbsp flour dissolved in 2 1/2 tbsp water
Salt to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (skim milk is fine)
Heat the oil and butter on medium heat in a large skillet. You can also use the saucepan that you plan to put in the soup in for this step, but I used the skillet to give the mushrooms and onion more space to sauté properly. (Another thing J. Child taught me!) When hot, add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme and sauté until the mushrooms and onions are soft and browned, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a large saucepan and add the stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the flour and water together, and then stir into the soup. Add salt to taste. Stir in the cream and milk, and bring to a slow boil again. Serve immediately.