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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Something to Warm You Up on a November Saturday Beefcake

Old-Fashioned Cream of Mushroom Soup (via the James Beard Foundation)
Anna Thomas
Love Soup (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009)

1 1/4 pounds portobello, cremini, or brown button mushrooms
2 medium yellow onions
4 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh or dried thyme
2-3 tablespoons dry sherry or dry Marsala
6-7 cups any basic vegetable broth or 5 cups canned vegetable broth diluted with 2 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons Arborio rice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
3 tablespoons half-and-half or light cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley
Sour cream or crème fraiche for garnish (optional)

Clean and coarsely chop the mushrooms. Chop the onions; you should have about 3 cups. Mince the garlic and chop the celery to get about 3/4 cup.

In a nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt, and cook over gentle heat, stirring now and then, until the onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a second skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil with the butter and sauté the garlic in it over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper and thyme to taste. Raise the heat to high and sauté the mushrooms, stirring often, until they give up their liquid, sizzle, and begin to turn darker brown, 7 or 8 minutes. Add a splash of sherry or Marsala and stir as it cooks away.

While the mushrooms and onions are sautéing, put the broth, rice, and celery into a soup pot and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. (Remember, if you are using canned broth you should dilute it, about 2 parts broth to 1 part water, or it will be too salty.) When the mushrooms and onions are ready, add them to the pot along with the paprika and keep simmering, covered, for another 15 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the half-and-half and the fresh dill or parsley. Taste, and correct the seasoning with a pinch more salt if needed.

[For six hot young men] If you like, drop a spoonful of sour cream or crème fraiche on each serving.

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