creamy potato mushroom soup

The brother-in-law didn't show up for dinner Tuesday night like he said he would. We called at work to remind him but he was in a different store location. We had done the meatloaf prep the night before and the mashed potatoes too. Everything was ready, including enough leftover eggplant-zucchini parmesan to pass for a veggie dish. Fortunately bob's mom dropped by unexpectedly, so by chance all was ready for her. However, there were plenty of leftovers for the next night. To be sure, bob thought a cream soup appetizer would stretch the menu enough for the brother-in-law's second chance dinner. Or is that brother's-in-law? We never remember.

Five cooking magazines were lying around the living room, with a number of cream soup possibilities. The big question to be decided was: heavy or healthy? (Heavy cream and lots of butter or no cream and little butter.) The light recipes called for cremini mushrooms so the mushroom selection was set. Off to the store, where organic milk was discovered, and some heavy cream was grabbed to keep our options open. It was fall break (mid-semester week vacation) so dr bob was off duty and a mid afternoon supermarket stop was no problem.

Bob peeled four mushrooms before mom suggested maybe washing was sufficient. The cooking library corroborated this point of view: "the flavor is all in the skin." Now they tell us. So the rest got cleaned only and the potato brush and mushroom brush got added to the "to get" list. Years of mushroom skins remained a tedious memory.

ingredients

what they said (Cooking Light, Sep 97) what we did
solids
2 bacon slices -> 2 T butter
4 c cremini mushrooms, chopped 1/2 lb [= 3 1/2 - 4 c]
1/2 c shallots, chopped 1/2 c
3 1/2 c Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed 5 medium generic potatoes [4 c]
liquids
1 14.5oz can fat-free chicken broth, divided
[16oz = 2 c]
3 c boiling water
plus 3 t veggie broth paste
2 c 1% lowfat milk 2 c [1% is our default]
2 T sherry 2 T cooking sherry
1 T dry Marsala wine
spices
1/2 t salt 1/2 t
1/4 t pepper 1/4 t

instructions

  1. We eliminated the "crisp then crumble the bacon" start to this recipe. bacon is not something we keep around the house after the bad rap it's consistently gotten over the years. And just 2 slices? It doesn't come in 2 slice packages very often. Pancetta on the other hand, is cut to order, so we occasionally have some of that on hand for Italian cooking. We suspect that it may be less damaging than the usual bacon product but are not sure. However, none was on hand this time.
  2. Since there were no bacon drippings in the pan where the bacon had not been, we used butter to saute the mushrooms and shallots until soft, adding a small hit of Marsala towards the end of the suggested 5 minute saute period. We were unable to decide between using cooking sherry or the Marsala wine which another (Italian) recipe called for, having consulted our cooking library. Real sherry we dislike, as we do most sweet liqueur/wines (as in port wine, not cream liqueurs), so that was out of the question. Alternately tasting the cooking sherry and Marsala, neither one recommended for sipping, we decided in favor of Marsala but not on the first trial of the recipe, so we went with the cooking sherry. As a minor compromise, some marsala crept into the mushroom saute though.
  3. So the softened mushrooms and shallots are set aside now. Add the potatoes and broth to the nonstick 6 qt pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and boil 12 minutes or so until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Transfer the potato mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.
  5. Return to the pot and add the milk, mushroom mixture, sherry, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes until thoroughly heated. [The crumbled bacon was used as a garnish on the soup bowl portion at serving time in the original recipe.]

notes

  1. Actually we boiled the potatoes first, then drained them and then combined them with the boiling water plus broth paste and half the mushroom shallot mixture and dumped it in the food processor with the milk. This turned out to be a mistake, since although it successfully pureed the stuff, fluid dynamics began to work when bob loosened the blade and it began overflowing internally though the blade cylinder opening (since the fluid level was higher than the top). We only lost about 1/2 cup on the counter (leaving us with a 1/2 cup to spare because of the added broth). A valuable lesson for future food processor practice. We put everything back in the nonstick pot where we sauteed the mushrooms. Meanwhile ms_ani, the hand blender specialist, entered the scene complaining about the cook not waiting for her to hand blend it instead, and took over damage control. Maybe next time we will follow the instructions, except for continuing to add half the mushroom saute to be pureed with the remaining stuff for more flavor.
  2. Yukon Gold potatoes? We've seen them in a few cooking mag recipes lately and on one trendy restaurant menu so far, but not yet in the potato isle at the supermarkets we frequent. Maybe at some future date.
  3. Some future date. They finally showed up.
  4. And we later bought the mushroom brush, but ms_ani still usually insists on peeling.
  5. A few years later dr bob did a web search on his legal name (vanity or justified curiosity?) and among the hits was surprised by seeing this recipe title show up, which for sure should not have contained the search string. Checking it out, it turned out that the original recipe web page had somehow gotten overwritten by the table of contents file in a web site update snafoo [mistake] a year earlier. Restoring the web page from the original text file while consulting the paper edition showed that the potatoes had been left out in transferring the recipe to the original web page! So dumb luck and the incredible magic of web search engines led to this rather crucial correction in the revised version.
pmshrmsp.htm: 6-aug-2001 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]