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Blame it on my severe love of tinned cream of mushroom as a kid, but cream of mushroom soup is one of those things that just really tingles my toes and comforts my ills. I usually like to make a large batch of soup and freeze it, so I can slowly gnaw -- I mean slurp, yes, slurp -- my way through the stash for weeks. Button mushrooms are the standard for this recipe, but you can really substitute this with any other kind of mushroom, or even mix them around. Oyster, portobello, golden or even straw mushrooms add variety and texture to this soup. One of the benefits of leftover mushroom soup is that it also makes a great base for most creamy mushroom sauces and gravies. It is very possible to throw some soup onto pasta, for example, to get an instant al funghi. Put it over some pan-fried meat or fish for an instant mushroom sauce. For a real lazy person's delight, stir in some cooked rice and meat (or an egg), throw on some shredded cheese, warm it all up in the microwave until the cheese melts, and you have a functional casserole. (The last dish featured at least once a week in my diet between the last two years of high school and the first four years of college.)

I made this by adding herbs I found around my garden into the stock -- not exactly a bouquet garni, but it definitely added flavour. You may use any variety of herbs you prefer, including chopped herbs and pre-mixed powdered herbs. I used the coriander stalks leftover from the leaves I retained for garnish, some bay leaves and a stalk of marjoram as a bouquet garni. The idea is to get flavourful herbs that will make the soup taste better the longer the soup is stored. If you are using powdered herbs, add them to the mushrooms and skip 3 and 5. It is further possible to vary this soup by chopping in some chives, potatoes, chicken or white fish meat to add texture and flavour.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/2 - 3/4 cup mushrooms (sliced)
1/4 cup parsley or coriander (chopped finely)
1 small onion (chopped finely)
3 cloves garlic (chopped finely)
2 1/2 cups stock
2-3 tbsp plain flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk + a little extra
salt and pepper to taste
fresh mixed herbs (optional)
oil or butter (for frying)

1. Fry the onion and garlic until the onions are caramelized.
2. Add the mushrooms and herbs. Cook until barely wilted. Set aside.
3. Add stock. Bring to boil for a minute or so. Lower heat to a simmer and leave for 15-20 minutes.
4. Whisk flour into the hot melted butter. Gradually add a little milk until you get a smooth paste. It should be thick enough to coat a spoon (or around the consistency of pancake batter).
5. If you're using a bouquet garni, pick it out of the pot. Add the mushrooms and the rest of the milk. Bring to a low boil.
6. Gradually stir in the flour paste until the soup reaches your desired level of creaminess.
7. Take off heat and stir in the parsley.
8. Serve warm with crackers or toast.

Afi's Mushroom Toast

Compared with mushroom soup, mushroom toast was a relatively recent innovation in my diet. It is still another form of comfort food though. It makes a great snack, and makes a nicely filling quick meal too. The mushrooms can be variegated or substituted with tomatoes, avocadoes, preserved artichoke hearts, bell peppers or tinned fish or meat. Once again, button mushrooms are the standard, but you can substitute this with oyster mushrooms or portobello mushrooms, if you prefer. In case you're wondering, this was my dinner tonight.

6 medium-thick slices crusty bread
1/2 cup mushrooms (thinly sliced)
2 large cloves garlic (finely chopped)
6 slices Kraft Singles
1/4 cup shredded parmesan or good melting cheese
1/2 tin cream soup (any kind -- I use cream of mushroom)
very finely chopped coriander or parsley leaves (for garnish)
olive oil (optional)

1. Lay out the slices of bread on a baking tray.
2. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
3. Spread on about a tablespoonful of cream soup on each slice.
4. Sprinkle a bit of garlic on top.
5. Arrange the sliced mushrooms in a single layer on each slice.
6. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese.
7. Add about half a tablespoonful more of cream soup on each slice.
8. Arrange a slice of Kraft Singles on each piece of bread.
9. Sprinkle with parsley.
10. Grill in a convection oven for 16-20 minutes. Depending on the actual power of your oven, this can go really fast, or really slow. Do watch your bread for burning. The mushroom toast is done when your cheese has just melted, the parsley is wilted, and the bread is crisp. Serve warm.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC)
Oooh I used to love cream of mushroom soup when I was younger... ... ... actually I still love it :/ but my boyfriend uses it as an ingredient in making other things so I never get to just eat it. :D

I'll have to have him try that recipe sometime -o- then inform him it's for my eating yar.
Nov. 10th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC)
Well, your boyfriend, based on your LJ posts, sounds like an awesome cook. So I think it must really work out for you! Tell me how it goes with the recipe-trying! ^_^
Nov. 11th, 2007 07:45 am (UTC)
Nov. 11th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )