Moldovan Borscht (Chicken and Vegetable Soup)

I am quickly reminded when I say things like, “I learned how to make this soup from a Moldovan woman while I was visiting my father in Kabul, Afghanistan,” what an interesting life I’ve had—privileged, not in a monetary sense, but full of diversity, culture, and once in a lifetime experiences (some good and some bad). My goal is to write more about those experiences, starting with this recipe.

So, as I’ve just illuminated, I learned this recipe from a Moldovan woman in Kabul, Afghanistan several years ago. She made this soup while I peeked over her shoulder and took mental notes. Hers was a bit more rustic than mine (If you buy a chicken from a local market in Kabul, it will have its feet still attached, and if you grew up in a small village in Moldova, those feet will go into your soup pot). Regardless of my lack of chicken feet, I feel I really nailed the flavors and recreated the soup I remember eating. The dill and beets are key and my favorite part of this soup. There is no butter in the recipe, but the combination of rich vegetables and the irreplaceable flavor you get from cooking the chicken skin-on and bone-in both result in such a satisfying, buttery depth of flavor in the finished soup. IMG_8973I love any recipe that starts with a whole chicken; something about the process of breaking down a whole chicken makes me feel so capable, like I can do anything. Silly, I’m sure, but you should try it sometime. If jointing a whole chicken intimidates you, feel free to buy one already jointed, or ask your friendly butcher to do it for you.

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In case you’re confused, this is not the widely-known bright pink, creamy borscht. Moldovan borscht is commonly a brothier soup, with variations on the meats and sometimes the vegetables. Clearly, I am not Moldovan, but in defense of my credibility, I did learn this recipe from a woman born and raised in Moldova, and hers was a brothy, hearty chicken soup full of root vegetables and packed with flavor like this one. I’ve also done quite a bit of research into Moldovan Borscht and her version and mine are pretty much spot-on. This is rustic, peasant food—restorative and good for you on every level. The wine is my touch. I don’t think she added any, but the French in me has a hard time not adding wine to soups and stews. It is entirely optional, but it adds a nice acidity.

Regardless of its origins and history, it is delicious, healthy, and comforting—hearty enough for a cold winter night, but light enough for warmer months, too. It’ll cure what ails ya.

PS: The leftovers are fantastic and taste even better a day or two later.

Moldovan Borscht

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds, cut into parts (breast, thighs, legs, wings)
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, sliced
  • 2 large beets, peeled and cubed (or 4 small beets)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced or grated
  • 4 waxy potatoes, such as red bliss or yukon gold, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tomatoes, diced or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill (feel free to use fresh if you have it)
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons veg oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups water

To prepare:

Heat oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot, cast iron if you have it. Salt and pepper chicken and place skin side down in a single layer. Allow skin to get very crispy and brown; don’t rush this step. Once all chicken has been browned, remove to a dish and pour any excess fat from the pot. Add chicken back to pot along with onions, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, beets, dill, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, wine, and water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until chicken is completely cooked through. Note: You won’t get any meat from the wings, but it is important to simmer them as they are packed with flavor and will result in a richer broth.

Remove chicken to a clean dish and set aside to cool slightly. Add cabbage and potatoes to pot and continue simmering for one more hour until tender. Taste broth at this point and add more salt and pepper to taste.

When chicken is cool enough to touch, remove and discard skin, and pull meat from bones in large pieces. Discard bones and wings. I prefer to leave the chicken in larger chunks, but shred or chop as you prefer.

Once vegetables are tender, skim any excess fat from broth and add shredded chicken back to pot. Heat through and serve with a garnish of fresh chopped parsley and dill and crusty bread with butter.

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Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili Verde

I get a lot of slow cooker recipe requests, so here is a new one to add to the list!

I had a hard time calling this just “white” chicken chili, because I used my favorite “verde” (green) enchilada sauce ingredients. The “white” in white chicken chili, to me, simply denotes the fact that there are no tomatoes or red chiles, and obviously chicken is whiter than beef. But I use thighs in this which are dark meat. Anyway, technicalities aside, this is so delicious and easy! Thighs can slow cook forever, so this is great to get prepped the night before, stash in the fridge overnight, and pop in the slow cooker before a long, busy day. You can even streamline it if you want and skip the browning of the thighs, but I really think this adds so much flavor and color. This is not a spicy dish either, as I replaced the typical jalapeños with just one large poblano in order to make it family friendly as well as slow cooker friendly. If you want to kick it up, add a jalapeño or two to the veggie mixture.IMG_8810

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili Verde

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (usually one regular-sized pack)
  • 1 lb tomatillos (6-7), husk removed
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 3 16-ounce cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • fresh cilantro—one cup for recipe, plus more for serving
  • lime wedges and tortilla chips or strips for serving

To Prepare:

Preheat broiler to high.

Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, poblano in a large, oven proof skillet (I prefer cast iron), drizzle with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place under broiler until the vegetables are blistered and very dark in spots. Alternatively, you can do this on the stove top over very high heat.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly, carefully peel the skin from the poblano—don’t get too fussy; it’s ok if you don’t get every speck of skin off—and remove and discard the seeds and stem along with the skin. Place the charred vegetables in a blender with a cup of fresh cilantro, one can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans, and one cup of your chicken stock. Blend until smooth and add to slow cooker.

Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs, and in the same pan you charred your vegetables, brown chicken thighs very well on both sides. Transfer thighs to slow cooker. While the pan is still hot, carefully remove excess fat from pan, pour in some chicken stock, and scrape to remove any brown bits of goodness. Add this liquid to slow cooker.

Add cumin, coriander, remaining two cans of beans, one can of hominy, and remaining chicken stock to slow cooker. Give it a stir and turn to low for 6-8 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, taste for salt and add more if desired—this will depend heavily on the saltiness of your chicken stock.

The chicken will be so tender and buttery, you can just shred it gently with tongs or a spoon. I like it a little chunky, but shred it however you prefer.

Serve with lime wedges, sour cream, fresh cilantro leaves, tortilla chips, and hot sauce. Enjoy!

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Quick Asian Noodle Soup

I cannot claim that this is Pho or Ramen (real Ramen, not the flavor packet kind we are all familiar with). The defining characteristic of both of those noodle soups is the time and tradition that goes into their broths, it would be an oxymoron to call anything “Quick Pho,” so the food traditionalist in me simply cannot call it that! However, the flavors I’ve added to this broth are my favorite Pho flavors and I made this to satisfy a noodle craving, and it worked. So, call it whatever you want, but I promise you’ll call it delicious.

I used noodles I happened to have in my pantry from my last spellbinding trip down the international food aisle at Wegmans, but you could make this with any noodle you prefer. Rice noodles would be more Pho-like, I am wild about mung bean or cellophane noodles (sometimes called glass noodles) which would also be very good here, but you could even use spaghetti. Just cook your noodle of choice separately according to package instructions.

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Quick Asian Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • one package Japanese wheat noodles (I used Hakubaku Organic Ramen 9.5 ounce package) (or whichever noodles you prefer)
  • two quarts chicken or beef stock (or a combination)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 one-inch piece of ginger, cut into large chunks, and another 1/2 inch piece peeled and very finely julienned for serving
  • 4 green onions, dark green parts reserved for stock, light green parts finely sliced on the diagonal for serving
  • 4 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved for stock, caps thinly sliced
  • one red fresno chili pepper, seeds removed and very finely sliced (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 whole star anise
  • small bunch of basil leaves, Thai basil if you can find it, leaves removed and thinly sliced for serving, stalks reserved for broth
  • small bunch of cilantro, leaves removed for serving, stalks reserved for broth
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts for serving, 1/4 cup per serving

To prepare:

In saucepan, combine stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, dark green parts of green onions, shiitake stems, star anise pods, basil and cilantro stalks. Bring to boil, and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain stock and discard the simmered ingredients. Return stock to pan and add sliced shiitake mushroom caps. Simmer this gently while you cook the noodles.

Place a separate pot of water on to boil for the noodles, and cook according to package instructions.

Strain noodles and divide evenly between 4 bowls. Ladle stock over noodles and garnish each bowl with cooked shiitakes, bean sprouts, basil and cilantro leaves, pepper slices, ginger slices, and green onions. A squeeze of lime would be nice too!

Enjoy!

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Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

I have a confession: I used to be kind of snooty about slow-cookers. My dad never used one, I don’t think we even had one in the house when I was a kid. I just always thought overcooked, mushy, drab-colored things came out of slow-cookers.

Phew. I’m so glad I got that off my chest.

I’m happy to report that my opinion has changed over the past few years. Becoming a busy mom/student has made me appreciate the comfort and reliability of slow-cookers — especially during the fall and winter months. It’s so nice to come home to something warm after a long, cold day.

This recipe is so easy, so comforting, and so delicious. It’s a jazzed up version of a recipe I saw in Real Simple a few years ago. The original recipe was pretty bland, so I put my little thumbprint on it and made it mine by adding some exotic, floral, distinctly Spanish saffron (think paella) and a few other things. My kids love this, and it must be served with some toasty bread rubbed with garlic.

Ps: the leftovers are fantastic.

Here’s how I made it:

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Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

Serves 6-8

Cook time: 8 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried white beans (such as great northern or navy)
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage or spanish-style chorizo (NOT Mexican chorizo!), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (one big carton)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes — fire-roasted if you can find them
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of saffron–about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (a couple big handfuls)
  • chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)
  • bread, for serving

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To Prepare:

In a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, sausage, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, saffron, wine and water.

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Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until beans are tender.

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and chopped fresh parsley.

Serve with bread, and enjoy!

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Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Spanish-Style Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sausage Stew

Serves 6-8

Cook time: 8 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried white beans (such as great northern or navy)
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage or spanish-style chorizo (NOT Mexican chorizo!), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (one big carton)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes — fire-roasted if you can find them
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of saffron–about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (a couple big handfuls)
  • chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)
  • bread, for serving

To Prepare:

In a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, sausage, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, saffron, wine and water.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until beans are tender.

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and chopped fresh parsley.

Serve with bread, and enjoy!

Dad’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

It might seem odd to associate gumbo with snow, but a few years ago, before a huge snowstorm blew through, I decided if I was going to be snowed in, I was going to make gumbo—just because. So, I ran to the store with the rest of Northern Virginia, and came home with the necessary loot. The next day I made it, and my house smelled like my Dad’s. Nothing else smells like gumbo; nothing else tastes like gumbo. It is warm, steeped in tradition, and so satisfying—just the kind of food you want when it’s icy cold outside.

So, naturally, a few days ago when the biggest snow storm since that one in 2010 was forecast, I went to the store with milk, bread, and gumbo supplies on my list. I made it last night for some dear friends—girl time and gumbo. Heart-warming and belly-warming. Just perfect.

I highly recommend getting all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you begin cooking. It makes the process so much more enjoyable and less stressful.

Here’s how I made it.

**Printer-friendly recipe at bottom of post**

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Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

serves 6-8

prep time 20-30 minutes

total cooking time 4-5 hours

Ingredients:

For Gumbo:

  • 1 smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, sliced into 3/4 to 1 inch slices
  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 dry bay leaves
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup Cajun seasoning

For Cajun Seasoning:

(This makes more than you will need for this recipe, so be sure not to put your chicken hands in it so you can save it for other recipes.)

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

To Prepare:

Combine all Cajun seasoning ingredients in a bowl or jar and mix thoroughly.

Season chicken generously on both sides with Cajun seasoning (should take about 1/4 cup) and set aside.

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Either dice the vegetables very finely by hand, or slice them into large chunks and let the food processor do all the work. Pulse them until they are minced, but not liquefied.

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Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy, enameled dutch-oven and cook sliced sausage until it is browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and try not to eat it all (Or try not to let your kids eat it all!).

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Working in batches, over medium-high heat, brown the seasoned chicken thighs on both sides and remove to a dish to cool. Place browned chicken and sausage in the fridge while you continue with the recipe.

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Add the remaining oil to the pan and the cup of flour. This is the most important step in the gumbo making process. Over medium heat, stir slowly and constantly until your flour mixture becomes a very dark peanut butter color and consistency. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Be patient and scrape the bottom to make sure it isn’t sticking and burning.

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As soon as your roux is a nice dark peanut-butter/chocolatey color, add your minced vegetables immediately.

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Stir together—you will have a very thick, pasty mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add your chicken stock slowly. Add bay leaves and sausages and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 1 hour.

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After 1 hour, add chicken and cook for an additional 2-3 hours at a very gentle simmer, stirring and skimming fat occasionally.

Serve in bowls with plain white rice, good Louisiana hot sauce, and a sprinkling of chopped green onions. Crystal is the hot sauce brand my dad raised me on, and it’s still my favorite (and my son’s).

Enjoy! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Dad's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy to medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

For Gumbo:

  • 1 smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, sliced into 3/4 to 1 inch slices
  • 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 dry bay leaves
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup Cajun seasoning
  • Hot sauce and chopped green onions for serving, optional

For Cajun Seasoning:

(This makes more than you will need for this recipe, so be sure not to put your chicken hands in it so you can save it for other recipes.)

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

To Prepare:

Combine all Cajun seasoning ingredients in a bowl or jar and mix thoroughly.

Season chicken generously on both sides with Cajun seasoning (should take about 1/4 cup) and set aside.

Either dice the vegetables very finely by hand, or slice them into large chunks and let the food processor do all the work. Pulse them until they are minced, but not liquefied.

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy, enameled dutch-oven and cook sliced sausage until it is browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and try not to eat it all (Or try not to let your kids eat it all!).

Working in batches, over medium-high heat, brown the seasoned chicken thighs on both sides and remove to a dish to cool. Place browned chicken and sausage in the fridge while you continue with the recipe.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and the cup of flour. This is the most important step in the gumbo making process. Over medium heat, stir slowly and constantly until your flour mixture becomes a very dark peanut butter color and consistency. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Be patient and scrape the bottom to make sure it isn’t sticking and burning.

As soon as your roux is a nice dark peanut-butter/chocolatey color, add your minced vegetables immediately.

Stir together—you will have a very thick, pasty mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add your chicken stock slowly. Add bay leaves and sausages and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add chicken and cook for an additional 2-3 hours at a very gentle simmer, stirring and skimming fat occasionally.

Serve in bowls with plain white rice and good Louisiana hot sauce. Crystal is the brand my dad raised me on, and it’s still my favorite (and my son’s).

Enjoy! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Corn and Potato Chowder

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am not a vegetarian. I love meat. But I also love moderation. I am perfectly happy going meat-free a couple times a week, and I’ve made it a normal part of my family’s routine. Going meat-free isn’t just good for our health, it’s good for our budgets and our planet.

I started seeing “meatless Monday” popping up on various social media sites and I think I read about it in a few magazines, but I had no idea what a big deal it really is; it’s an actual movement. “Meatless Monday began in 2003, launched in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In May, 2009, Ghent, Belgium, became the first non-U.S. city to go meatless. Shortly thereafter, Paul McCartney introduced the U.K. to Meat-Free Mondays.” Check out the website for more info, and make it a part of your weekly routine if you haven’t already.

This soup is a great way to start. I modeled it after my grandma’s recipe, (She actually makes tuna chowder, which I love, and this is really that recipe minus the tuna). She usually makes it with evaporated milk, and you can absolutely substitute the half and half for evaporated milk–it is so old-fashioned; I love it. I just always have half and half for my coffee, so I throw it into recipes.

It sounds funny, but the “secret” ingredient really is the celery. Celery seems so insignificant, but it makes all the difference in chowders. My French ancestors were really on to something with their mirepoix, and I’m happy to carry on the tradition. This is a great base for any kind of chowder. Try tuna, clam, chicken… and of course, feel free to start the recipe by crisping some bacon as long as it’s not meatless Monday.

Finally, I am a big believer in dunking things in soup, so I serve it with something toasty, and usually cheesy… I can’t help myself.

Here’s how I made the soup, and the cheesy dunkers:

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Corn and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cups half and half or evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (I used 5 medium sized potatoes)–peeled and diced
  • 3 cups corn kernels (I used frozen, but in the summer time you must use fresh corn–so good!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion–chopped
  • 1 carrot–peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery–diced
  • 1 garlic clove–peeled and gently crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • Chives or parsley to garnish (optional)

To Prepare:

In a large pot melt the butter, and add diced onions, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaf with a big pinch of salt–about a teaspoon, a few grinds of black pepper, and a teensy pinch of cayenne, if using. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add flour and stir to combine, cook for about a minute.

Add wine and stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes. Cook for about twenty minutes until potatoes are just tender. Add corn and half and half, bring back to a very gentle simmer until heated through. Don’t boil! Taste and adjust seasoning. The salt you add will depend on your stock, so it is very hard for me to give an exact measurement. Just add what tastes good!

Garnish with chives or parsley and enjoy!

*One of the benefits of evaporated milk is that it can withstand boiling, so if you use it you don’t have to be quite as concerned about curdling as if you use half and half.

If you want to serve it with a dipper, here’s how I made my most recent version:

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Parmesan Toasts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf of italian or french bread
  • 1/2 stick soft butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

To prepare:

Smear bread evenly with butter, sprinkle evenly with cheese, place under broiler and watch carefully until the cheese gets brown. Don’t walk away! This happens fast! Slice and serve alongside the soup!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I’m back on my mushroom kick again… It’s not the first time, and I assure you it won’t be the last. I just love them, as I’m sure you remember from my Chicken Marsala Pasta post. Of all things mushroom, this soup has to be my favorite. Throughout my childhood and into my teenage years, I requested it often from my dad and grandma.
Obviously, I had to start making it for myself, and since there was never really a recipe, I came up with my own. I get excited when I see the varieties of mushrooms that are available at most grocery stores (food nerd alert!), and this soup can be made with any combination of them. Whatever you choose will be perfect, so get creative. It is rich, creamy, and comforting, but not overly thick as some “cream of” soups can be. Also, some mushroom soup recipes are ridiculously skimpy with their mushroom proportions, and the end result is really disappointing. So, while my amount might seem excessive, I promise it’s worth it. This is serious mushroom soup; I’m not messin’ around.

I still love topping it with my childhood favorite of crumbled saltines or oyster crackers. For something more substantial and dinner time appropriate, I like to serve it with grilled cheeses (for dunking of course!) made with either Fontina or Gruyère cheese (these two cheeses pair really nicely with mushrooms and thyme). No matter what you serve it with, you’ll be happy. It’s the perfect meal on a chilly fall day or night, kind of like a big hug for your tummy. Yum, yum, yum….

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

  • 48 ounces of mushrooms; any variety and combination, stems removed and reserved, caps sliced (Today I used 16 oz button, 16 oz cremini (baby bella), 8 oz oyster, and 8 oz shiitake)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme (remove leaves from 4 sprigs and finely chop. Reserve the other 4 sprigs for your stock)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup marsala or dry white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper

To Prepare:

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and add mushroom stems. Cook for a few minutes until stems begin to brown. Add stock, 1 cup of water, and 4 sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil and let simmer while you prepare the mushrooms.

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add onion and a good pinch of kosher salt. Cook over medium heat until onion softens and begins to brown. Add sliced mushrooms, garlic, chopped thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. (At this point you might think I’m crazy, but just trust me! The mushrooms cook down quite a lot during the next few steps.) Stir, and cover with a tightly fitting lid for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir again, replace lid and cook for another 5 minutes. At this point your mushrooms will be very soft and have quite a bit of liquid. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add wine and cook, again,  until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the final tablespoon of butter, once melted add flour and stir for a minute or so until you can’t see the white of the flour anymore and the mushroom mixture becomes thick and pasty.

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Strain the mushroom/chicken stock  directly into the soup pot containing the mushrooms, and cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom occasionally.

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After 15 minutes you will have a thick, almost gravy-like consistency. Add cream and half and half. Stir to combine and heat through, but make sure not to boil. Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting as needed.

Serve in big bowls with crackers, bread, or grilled cheese on the side.

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Enjoy!