Saturday, October 16, 2010

Soup: Soul Satisfying Food

There is something about a pot of home-made soup simmering on the stove that gives me comfort. In fact soup-making is my one weakness, and it doesn't take much in the way of motivation to get me started. I keep organic chicken stock in the pantry, and save and freeze veggie cooking water, and of course any bones or remnants of roasted fowl or beast end up in the stock pot or frozen for later use. I have actually been known to invite a dozen people over for turkey dinner, just so I can save the carcass. Seriously.

I make soup by instinct, and my instincts usually tell me that the fresher the better for your veggies and that butter and cream are great additions to just about anything you have on hand. Yes, I am channelling Julia Child. And this doesn't just apply to soup. I was moved to make the soup that is the topic of this blog after buying some gorgeous bunches of celery and a basket of fresh mushrooms at one of the last Farmer's Markets of the season.
This particular soup really needs garden or farm fresh celery. It has a much more delicate stalk, more abundant leaves and its taste is incredibly pungent, and - well - celery-flavoured. Now is the time to get the last of it.

And mushrooms. These beauties are from the Shan Ming Mushroom Farm in Maple Ridge B.C. They are gorgeously flavoured - musky and earthy. And just-picked (plucked?) fresh.

Because I cook by instinct, these measures are approximate, but they should get you through to a beautiful, flavourful autumn soup that marries celery and mushrooms in a creamy, delicious fall meal. My basic rule is keep tasting. Adjust as it moves you!

1/4 c butter
2 c fresh celery stems & leaves, chopped
Medium onion, chopped
3-4 lge King Oyster mushrooms - stems chopped, tops sliced
6-9 button mushrooms - sliced
Bunch of Enoki mushrooms - long stems chopped, otherwise leave whole
(Or any other mushroom combo of your choice)
1/2 c white wine
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 c heavy cream

Melt butter in bottom of  your favourite heavy soup pot. Add chopped onion and lightly saute for 3-5 mins. Add chopped celery and leaves. Add sliced mushrooms (reserve Enokis). Sweat these together covered until celery is soft and mushrooms are limp. Salt and pepper to taste. Add white wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add chicken or vegetable stock (or both) and simmer for about 30 mins. Add the Enokis just a couple of minutes before you add the cream. (about five minutes before serving). If soup is bubbling, reduce the heat before you add cream. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with love.