Weekly Winner: It’s Ugly, but C’est Magnifique!

mushroom soupI realize that this week’s Weekly Winner is not going to win any beauty awards.  It really isn’t much to look at — a bowl of grayish-brown liquid.  Yum!  Although what it may lack in presentation, believe me it makes up for in taste.

Paris Mushroom Soup is one of my standard, go-to winter soup recipes.  It is always in heavy rotation in this house.  It is one of the most satisfying, earthy, complex and luscious soups I make.  And if you are a fan of mushrooms, once you start making this soup you will come to crave it on a regular basis.

The recipe comes from my cooking bible – Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  My copy of this cookbook has more sticky-notes, dog-eared and food-stained pages than any other cookbook I own.  I adore this book.  The recipes are amazingly easy to follow and the dishes just always seem to come out better than expected. What I truly love about this book are the stories and descriptions of the dishes.  Every recipe has some little side note or back story that instantly transports me to France — what more can you ask for?  OK, maybe a prettier soup.  But the true beauty lies in the taste. Bon Appetit!

Paris Mushroom Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

For the Soup:

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1-1/2 large onions, coarsely chopped

3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1-1/2 lbs white mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and sliced

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 parsley sprigs

1 rosemary sprig

6 cups chicken broth

For the Salad:

6 large white mushrooms, wiped clean and trimmed

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (optional)

1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

1 Tbsp minced fresh chives

Crème fraiche, for serving (she says its optional – it’s not)

Instructions

To make the soup: Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large Dutch oven over low heat.  Toss in the onions and garlic, season with salt and white pepper, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.  Add the mushrooms and the remaining tablespoon of butter, raise the heat to medium, and cook, continuing to stir, for another 3 minutes or so, until the mushrooms release their liquid.  Increase the heat to high and cook until almost all of the liquid evaporates.  Pour in the wine and let it boil until it, too, almost evaporates.

Toss the herbs into the pot, add the broth, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, cover the pot almost completely, and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes.  Pull out herb stalks.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor.  Taste for salt and white pepper.  Pour the soup back into the pot and heat it gently – it shouldn’t boil, but it should be very hot.

To make the salad and serve: Divide the mushrooms, scallions (if using), parsley, and chives among six soup bowls; season lightly with salt and white pepper. Ladle the soup into the bowls, and top each with a dollop of crème fraiche, if desired. (Trust me, it is desired)

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Change in the weather…

Just about two weeks ago I found myself mourning the end of summer.  Admittedly, this has been a very odd summer for me.

First of all, summer took forever to arrive in Chicago this year.  Too many false starts and teasing.  Then when it finally did get here, the blast furnace was turned on … big time!

Secondly, my work has been odd and different this summer.  Not my usual schedule, and we’ve already discussed how I do like to keep a regular schedule. Things just seemed jumbled, disorganized and out of sorts.

Finally… and I shouldn’t even mention this…. summer to me means my beloved Chicago Cubs.  What a disappointing season.  Mind you, I still watched just about every game (and will continue to do so until the very bitter end), but it just wasn’t the same.  There was no pressure… no anticipation.  We knew from a very early stage, that the playoffs were not in the cards this year.

So… suddenly I woke up one morning and it was September.  September?? How is this possible?  It was June just a moment ago!  Now the calendar was telling me it was fall.  I just didn’t think I was ready.  Somehow, I felt cheated.

Then, this morning I awoke to a gloriously cool, clear morning.  It was even chilly!  I immediately knew what needed to be done.  I cracked open my favorite cookbook, “Around My French Table“, by Dorie Greenspan and found the recipe for Paris Mushroom Soup.  Soup!!  Glorious, warm, silky soup.  I put on my favorite light sweater and suddenly… I am all about fall!  Summer?  Who needs it?

Bring on college football!  Bring on fires in the fireplace!  Bring on cozy soups and succulent stews!  Autumn…. I am ready!