So tonight I thought I would experiment. Nancy and Ariel were gone...and since they don't like mushrooms, I though it would be a perfect opportunity to try making cream of mushroom soup. I know Alan makes this often, and he probably has a perfect recipe, but it was getting late, and I didn't want to bug him, besides, sometimes I just like to experiment and see how it turns out. So, that is what I did. Just to explain a little about my cooking....I don't really do recipes. I like to approximate. So, see if you can keep up! Here we go. These are the ingredients I pulled out of my refridgerator:
Mushrooms (of course!) an onion, garlic, milk, chicken stock, butter and half and half. Okay, first of all I have to confess that I was in a big hurry when I picked up the half and half at the store. I thought I was only picking up like 3 items, I could do this on my own and just walk with my cane. It turned out to be challenging. We'll just leave it at that. But suffice to say that pushing a cart AND walking with a cane is not easy on the healing broken ankle. That said, I was in a hurry and accidently picked up "Fat Free" half and half. Fat Free? yes. I did not know there could be such a thing. It turns out, it worked decently well...but I'm not sure it is really better for you. Anyway, in the spirit of total disclosure, yes, that IS "fat free" half and half, and yes, I bought it. If you decide to follow my cooking experiment, feel free to try fat free half and half, or the real deal, or even cream. I'm sure they would all work just fine. For what it is worth, you can even stick with just milk...it just won't be as creamy. So, first things first, I chopped up an onion. Here is my method. First remove the skin (I didn't take a photo of that, but I'm sure you can manage! Next cut the onion in half from root to top and place the onion half (cut side down) on your cutting board. Next you are going to make a series of radial cuts, taking care not to cut all the way through the root, this will hold the onion together for now....see the picture?
Ok, next turn the onion 90 degrees and slice through, producing a very nice dice, if I do say so myself
Ok, now for the garlic. Take one clove of garlic, and you are going to smash it with the knife blade. Use the heel of your hand on one side of the blade to help give it some force.
If you have smashed it well, the outside papery "skin" will come right off leaving a perfect clove.
Give the clove a bit of a rough chop. Now, I was thinking I definitely did not want any chunks of garlic, but I did want the flavor, so I decided to make a garlic paste. Basically, once you've rough chopped the garlic, you are going to smash it into the paste. Again, using the heel of your hand, press the side of your knife blade onto the chopped up garlic. Throw a little bit of kosher salt on it to help grind the garlic up. Just rub the salt into the garlic with the knife blade...It works pretty well...
Ok...next put both the onions and garlic into your pan with a few tablespoons of butter.
Then add in your chopped up mushrooms:
And saute them for a bit.
Once they are nice and sauteed, add them to your blender along with a cup or so of chicken stock. Normally I would totally have left them in the pan, and added the chicken stock, and then blended using my new Cuisinart Hand Blender that I got for Christmas...but, sadly, the hand blender was downstairs, and I was upstairs, and with my ankle...it was too much of a problem to go get it...but next time...and there will be a next time, that is what I will use. If you are lucky enough to own your very own hand blender...you can skip this step.
Meanwhile, back in our pan, I left a few peices of mushrooms hanging out with some butter. I thought it would be nice to have a few chunks of mushrooms in the soup. So, I added a few tablespoons of flour to the pan. Basically we are making what the French call a "Roux" - equal parts fat (in our case butter) to flour. Then you stir it around and "cook" the flour. The purpose here being that the proteins in the flour get cooked, and they thicken your soup without adding a "flour" taste. Long story short add about as much flour as you did butter earlier. If you find that it isn't quite coming together, add a little more butter or flour.
Here is what it should look like, consistency wise. Stir it around for a minute or two until it browns ever so slightly.
Then add your blended up mushrooms and chicken stock back to the pan
and again...I'll just mention...if you are lucky enough to own one of these, well, you are lucky!
Next add your cream, or half and half, or milk, or (in my case) fat free half and half
Bring the whole thing to a simmer so that flour can go to work and thicken it all
And YUM! You have something delicious to eat!
I served mine up with some oven roasted asparagus. (something else I love) They don't necessarily go together, but they were both delicious!
What did I learn? Well, next time I might leave out the garlic and add some fresh thyme. I didn't have any thyme or I might have tried it. I think I had too many onions compared to the other ingredients...or maybe they just weren't blended well enough. And, of course, that whole fat free half and half fiasco...well, I would try something different next time. All in all though, I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Not bad.
Post Script: After doing some internet research, I believe I now know where I went astray. I found this recipe And suddenly it all makes sense....use the food processor to finely (very finely) chop up the mushrooms and onions BEFORE you cook them. Yes, that is the ticket. I will try it! :)