Friday, November 16, 2012

Flash Blog - Cream of Mushroom Soup

When I started thinking about this blog, the main idea was a place to track ideas and the trials and tribulations for posterity.  The weekly food posts have been repeatedly cooked and tried.  Mrs. Thirsty has given her input in all of them and we’ve tweaked them together to the point that I feel I can reveal them here without any fear.  This “Flash Blog” is another thing all together.  With these posts I am basically going to be recording the nights where I come home, open the fridge and cupboards and Mrs. Thirsty gets worried and shakes her head because she knows what the kitchen will look like when I’m done.  Basically I will be recording the ingredients, the how’s and why’s, and some ideas on how to improve what happened that should all lead to a detailed weekly post in the future.  This is a situation where I would love input from any readers on what I should try, how to improve or any radical thoughts you may have that I could incorporate.

Last night was one of these nights.  On my way home, Mrs. Thirsty asked me to pick up some simple white sandwich bread because she really just wanted a night of grilled cheese and Lipton® chicken noodle soup.  So I stopped at the store, knowing that I was on my own for supper, I spent a little time looking around.  After seeing some cream, brie and mushrooms, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at a cream of mushroom soup.  Since Mrs. Thirsty already had her meal planned and she is the lactose free one in our little pair of misfits, I thought a cream soup would be nice.  I don’t make cream soups all that often, because obviously I want my wife to enjoy a meal with me without the fear of the future pain shadowing the meal.  This was a good opportunity to try creating a basic recipe that I could later convert to lactose free.

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Brie

This is one of those memories from my childhood before gluten was a problem.  A warm bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup® and a box of Triscuits® on a cool fall day is a heart warming memory for me.  In this case I’m changing things up a bit but we’ll see what happens.

So I wound up with about 4 bowls and it took about 40 minutes to prep and cook.  Like most soups, this could probably simmer for hours and taste even better for it but I wanted to eat before midnight.

Starting with about 15 brown mushrooms, I wiped the caps with a wet towel and took the stems off.  I threw the stems in a medium sauce pot with some veggie stock and about a litre of water, capped it and set it on the stove to simmer.

The mushrooms were sliced up and then I minced a shallot.  I also crushed 3 cloves of garlic and removed the husk.

I put the medium soup pot on medium-high heat and added about 50g of Yogurt Butter.  I really like the flavour of this butter, there is a rich and tanginess to it that is just great to cook with.  Once the butter had melted I added the mushrooms, shallots and garlic.

As the mushrooms released their water I threw in a few sprigs of thyme I had in the freezer, some fresh ground pepper, sea salt and about a half teaspoon of nutmeg.

The water was evaporated off and once the mushrooms were a nice brown and a few were just starting to show some fried texture I put about 100mL of red wine into the pot.  It boiled really quickly and I gave it about 20 seconds to boil/reduce/deglaze the pan and added the stock to the mushrooms, pouring through a strainer to remove the mushroom stems.  I turned the heat down to medium low, capped the pot and let it simmer while I worked on the cream.

Starting with a roux, I put about a table spoon of the Yogurt Butter into the pot that the stock was in, over a medium heat and added a tablespoon of chestnut flour.  I was thinking that the earthy, nuttiness of the chestnut flour would go well with the mushrooms.  Once the roux browned a little I added 600g of whole heavy cream, stirring constantly with a whisk.  I turned the cream down to low and went to cut the rind off the brie.  I used about half a wedge, not sure how much of the brie would come through.   Chopping the brie into large cubes I added them to the cream and went back to whisking.

Once all the brie was melted, I poured the cream into the simmering mushroom stock mixture, brought the whole thing to a simmer and left the top half off, letting it simmer like that for about 20 minutes.  The flavour of the soup was about what I wanted, but it was a little on the watery side so I added another 2 tablespoons of chestnut flour, let it simmer for 5 minutes and had a bowl.

Overall it turned out well.  The flavours were really nice, the thyme a little more subtle than I wanted and it needed a little more pepper, but I was very satisfied.

Next time I try this I’d make the following changes/additions:
-          Fry some fine diced, smoked bacon in the Yogurt butter before adding the mushrooms
-          Add more thyme, the fresh-frozen sprigs aren’t as powerful as the dried herb
-          Add the nutmeg to the cream instead of the mushrooms
-          Use coarse cracked black pepper in the mushrooms and a little bit of white pepper in the cream
-          More Brie in the cream, the whole wedge
-          More wine in the mushrooms, closer to 250mL
-          Double the roux in the cream for a thinker texture
-          Let the whole thing simmer together a little longer covered so that the flavours can meld

This is definitely not lactose free, but it is gluten free.  I’ll play with a lactose free version next.