Wednesday, September 30, 2015

REAL Soup of the Month: Mushroom-Leek Potage

Okay, remember my post last weekend about slipping in a hot vegetable dish as my sort-of Salad of the Month? And all my accompanying musings about what, exactly, makes a salad a salad?

Well, forget all that. Because tonight, as the last few hours of September ticked away, Brian prepared a new soup that is unquestionably a soup, and therefore qualifies to be my Soup of the Month. And it's not only new, it's good.

This recipe happened, as so many of our meals seem to, kind of out of nowhere. We had some mushrooms in the fridge, and since we'd done rather a lot of pasta-type dishes lately, Brian decided to make them into a soup. And since we had some leeks out in the garden that were ready to pick, he thought he'd throw those in as well. And while we were out in the garden, I happened to notice that we not only had a second crop of arugula (which we hadn't actually planted) springing up in the garden beds, but we also had some growing up through the garden paths. Rather than let it get trampled, I carefully stooped and plucked up all the tiny, tender leaves, and Brian tossed those in the soup as well. And since we had about a quarter of a cup of coconut cream left in a jar in the fridge that was on the verge of going off, he decided to throw that in as well.

And somehow, out of this makeshift mismatch, came a hearty, flavorful soup, with savory mushrooms basking in a rich brown broth. Some of the credit for the soup's flavor is no doubt due to our favorite vegetable soup base from Penzey's Spices, which kicks the taste knob on any vegetarian soup up at least a notch or two. But some of it is certainly also due to Brian's recent discovery that mushroom soup in general tastes much better if you don't sauté the mushrooms first, as many recipes suggest you do. Throw them in the pot in their natural state, and all their juices will end up in the soup itself, rather than trickling round the edges of the saucepan.

So here is the recipe in full. It's a Recipe of the Month that I can wholeheartedly endorse on every level—not just because it technically meets my criteria, but because it's actually good enough to recommend to any fan of fungus.
  1. Clean, dice, and sauté 2 small leeks in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes.  
  2. Add 3 cups vegetable broth (in this case, 1 1/2 tsp. Penzey's Vegetable Soup Base in 3 cups water). Bring to a boil. 
  3. Add 1 lb. sliced mushrooms, a small handful chopped arugula, 2 squashed garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme. Simmer on low heat about 20 minutes.
  4. Add 1/4 cup coconut cream, 1 1/2 Tbsp. corn starch suspended in 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Heat until thickened slightly and serve (preferably with biscuits made from half white, half whole-wheat flour).
Bon appétit, and happy September!
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