Creamy Mushrooms (evil) and Blue Potato Leek Soup

Soooo delicious…. would be better with fresh parsley (I only had dried)

I know, the title sounds strange, but there’s an explanation.
The creamy mushrooms recipe is Jamie Oliver’s but I made a slightly more evil version because Chris and I had a strange idea that it called for bacon (like this Nigella Lawson recipe). This was delicious. I didn’t have crusty bread to serve with it so I baked up some puff pastry from Trader Joe’s. It didn’t puff properly and didn’t taste great, so we ate the mushrooms plain and then threw some into the potato leek soup, which was delicious!

Next time I’ll serve the mushrooms with crusty bread (and no bacon). It’s a great treat. I would make this without bacon next time and serve it with a side of bright arugula salad with lemon and pecorino romano to cut the heaviness.

My recipe:
3 tbsp butter
3 slices bacon, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
1 lb mushrooms (I used oyster, shitake, cremini), trimmed and sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper
parsley (fresh is better, I only had dried)

Melt butter in large pan. Add bacon, cook until soft and just starting to brown. Add onions and mushrooms.
Cook for 10-15 minutes until onions soft and translucent and mushrooms are cooked down. Add salt, pepper, cream, and cook for 10 more minutes on med-low flame to reduce cream. Add parsley too (if fresh, add at the end). Serve with crusty bread. Delicious.

Now I’m sure you want to know why the potato leek soup was blue. It was actually grayish. Not very appealing, but trust me, it wasn’t a Bridget Jones-type error, I just had blue potatoes in the kitchen. Blue potatoes blended with white potatoes and leeks and cream makes gray/bluish soup.  🙂  It’s the same potato leek soup recipe that I made before, just tweaked a little (2 c cream, 3/4 c skim milk, 6 potatoes, 4 small trimmed leeks… it’s a very flexible recipe).

Blue and white potatoes cooking with leeks
Finished soup, slightly blue, slightly gray   🙂
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Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

February must be soup month… it’s all I want to make.
This one is great, from the latest (March 2012) issue of Everyday Food. Tastes like a potato cheddar soup but with more flavor because of the cauliflower. I served it with bbq boneless/skinless chicken thighs and leftover roasted potatoes and onions from last night (and you can see my glass of ginger beer in the background… yummy!).
It’s super easy too. Where would we be without immersion blenders?  🙂
Another great veggie option if you switch to vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Ingredients:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 med yellow onion, diced small
1 med head of cauliflower, cut into 1.5″ pieces
32 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth
8 oz water
5.5 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
Kosher salt and ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional; I skipped this)

Directions:
Melt butter in dutch oven. Add onions, cook 8 minutes over med heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Add cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook 12 minutes until just beginning to brown.
Add broth and water. Bring heat up to high and bring to boil.
Then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes until cauliflower is very tender.
Turn off heat, use immersion blender to puree soup.
Add cheddar cheese, stir until melted (you can put the heat back on to low if necessary to melt cheese).
Sprinkle cheese on top for garnish and with cayenne pepper, if desired (I think chives would look nice on top too, but I didn’t have any), and serve immediately.

Serves 6. 212 cal per serving.

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

Mmmmm… it’s so good, and super easy. How could I not love that?
I made it really easy by buying pre-peeled and cut butternut squash in the produce section. Then I just chopped it up. I also bought a bag of frozen sliced leeks from Trader Joe’s (excellent). The hardest part was peeling and chopping 3 apples. So easy.  🙂 This is my stripped-down version of Michael Chiarello’s recipe.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
1 cup sliced leeks (white and lightest green parts only)

4 cups butternut squash, chopped (about 1/2″ cubes, can be a little bigger)
3 organic apples (3 cups chopped) – I used fuji, braeburn and gala

36 oz chicken stock (approx, anywhere from 32-40oz is fine)
salt and pepper

Directions:
In heavy soup pot (dutch oven) melt butter until it turns nut brown. Add garlic clove (cut in half), and add leeks (I saved time and nuked the frozen leeks first).  Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add squash and apples (season with salt and pepper) and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add stock, bring to low boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes (covered about 3/4 way with lid) until squash and apples are soft.
Blend with an immersion blender (watch for hot soup splatters!) and serve immediately.

It made 10 cups of soup, 92 calories per cup. Yum!

Chris’ Chicken Soup

Chris made chicken soup last week. It’s a shame that it was all gone by time I caught his cold today.
Delicious soup, though! Really easy to make aside from picking the hot chicken. It freezes well too.
Chris likes to add ditalini to his soup, I don’t like to add any pasta/noodles to mine. We both like to sprinkle a little grated pecorino on top before we eat it.  🙂

1 whole chicken (about 4 lbs)
16 cups water
6 carrots, sliced into 1/4″ slices
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 yellow onions, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste (optional, Chris just adds it for a little color/flavor)
rind of pecorino romano
black pepper
salt

Boil chicken in water with 1 tbsp salt  in a large pot for 30 minutes, then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for another 60 minutes. Remove chicken, let the chicken cool a little, and pick meat off chicken. Put meat back into soup.
Allow to cool and skim off fat. Makes about 4.5 quarts.