A dumping ground for leftovers and a chef’s favourite for Monday night specials, soup can be a disappointment if made without love. Call me sentimental (at your own risk), but no amount of butter can make up for soup that has been made without love.
This has nothing to do with speed, however. Making soup need not be a lengthy or laboured process. It should be a fun and essentially satisfying experience. It should begin with simple, fresh ingredients and end in a bowl that provides sustenance and a little of the season’s best.
I’ve mentioned my sinful tampering with perfectly good recipes, but today I wanted to show that I too can create something simple and honest. A bowl of something that is proud of the ingredients it contains. A spoonful of something that doesn’t need dressing up. A mouthful of something that tastes exactly as you’d expect. I’m serious!
The nights are drawing in. The temperature is falling. Salads just aren’t called for. The season of soup has begun. My love of chestnut mushrooms means it is time for me to share my version of a classic soup. No twists and no surprises. Just bags of flavour.
Classic cream of mushroom soup.
500g chestnut mushrooms (sliced)
1 pint chicken stock
quarter of a pint of semi-skimmed milk
2 tblspoons plain flour
tonnes of black pepper
a little double cream to serve
First of all, you’ll notice that there’s no onion, no garlic and no alcohol in the ingredients list. This soup tastes of one thing and one thing only- mushrooms. It’s creamy, it’s tasty and it needs no craziness.
Melt the butter in a soup pan and fry the sliced mushrooms on a high heat until they begin to brown. At this point I like to grind lots and lots of black pepper over the mushrooms. You can do this to taste. I like a lot. Don’t add salt yet. If your butter is burning, add a drop of olive oil.
Next, add the flour and coat the mushrooms. Cook it for a couple of minutes and then pour in the stock and milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer for a few minutes. You may need to whisk the soup to get rid of the lumps of flour.
Take the soup off the heat and blend with a hand blender. Don’t make the soup too smooth; it’s nice to have the texture of the mushrooms. Place the soup back on the heat and add salt if necessary to taste.
Ladle into bowls and pour some double cream in to serve.