A couple weeks ago, I attempted a mushroom soup creation that ended up a complete and utter failure. I'm not talking the kind of failure that you can eat and say, "well it's not my best work, but no sense wasting it". Nope, it was unsalvageable and it found its way straight to the garbage.
I've always (well, for the last couple years anyway) prided myself on my soup-making skills. Soup is one of those things in life that I love and am completely passionate about, so my ego didn't react so well after making such a huge mistake. Lesson learnt - be very judicious when using dried mushrooms.
With this soup, however, I took a completely different approach. There aren't any weird 'shrooms here, just straight-up white buttons. I wanted something reminiscent of my childhood mushroom soups (you know, the kind from the can that you add milk to). So what I've concocted here is a mushroom soup that is creamy but not thick, made robust with the addition of potatoes and perked up with some fresh parsley. The addition of parsley definitely defies the canned soups of my past, but it adds such a nice freshness to the soup that I highly recommend including it.
One word of advice: the major flavoring in this soup comes from vegetable broth, so make sure you use a good one. I just used a bouillon that I love (For Reginians, it's can be found at the South Old Fashion Foods in a plastic baggie) because I'm just not hardcore enough to make my own broth most of the time.
Cream of Mushroom and Potato Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped small (about 2 cups)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 generous cups sliced button mushrooms
1/3 cup cashews
1/4 cup minced parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste (depends on the saltiness of your broth)
1. In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and vegetable broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. While the soup is cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding. When they're tender and lightly browned, remove from the heat and set aside. A note for happy mushroom frying - do make sure the mushrooms are dry before frying, or they won't brown up properly.
3. In a blender, combine the cashews with roughly 2/3rds of the cooked soup broth and blend until smooth. Pour the liquid into a bowl or cup and set aside. Ladle in about half of the soup to the blender and blend until smooth. Pour blended soup mixture back into the soup pot, along with the blended cashew mixture and the minced parsley. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
I feel like the success of this mushroom soup negates the terrible disappointment of my soup two weeks ago. Woo hoo! And it's a reminder to remember that sometimes shit happens, even when you think you know what you're doing. I think it's spectacular kitchen failures that keep us humble as chefs. Still, character-building aside, I'm really glad I didn't have two mushroom soup failures in a row. :)
On an unrelated note, check out the weirdness of this picture:
We were casually eating veggie burgers at the university, and whenever there's food involved, I take a ton of pictures. I had no idea this picture would turn out looking so strange! Is it just me?