Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I don't know about other Lap Banders but speaking for myself.....I know my way around soup.
Growing up, soup was one of those things I could take or leave.
I was probably way too busy getting to the main course to take the time to savor soup.
I was a one soup girl for about 20+ years---wedding soup, wedding soup, wedding soup.
And, not just any random wedding soup---it had to be my family recipe. I was completely convinced it was the only wedding soup worth eating. It is pretty spectacular.....
Somewhere along the line, I developed a taste for a few other soups--clam chowder and French onion to be exact.....nothing too exotic for me. And, of course, I experimented with soup recipes but never with much fanfare or major success.
Soup was never part of the repretiore in my kitchen. My children did not grow up on eating soup. Clearly, I did them wrong.....
It wasn't until my Lap Band days that I found the true joy of soup.
Soup is a Lap Bander's best friend. It's one of those band friendly foods that not only nourishes and keeps you satisfied with no major Lap Band issues, it also warms your soul and provides comfort.
And, for a kitchen-loving girl like me--soup also brings me joy in the kitchen. All the chopping and stirring is relaxing. And, watching everything transform into something yummy is what I consider a great time.
Soup-making is an art---a perfect blend of a good recipe, personal creativity, technique and yumminess.
Sure, I've had my share of dud soups that found their way down the garbage disposal.....oh the stories I could tell.....
But, more often than not, I've been pleased with the results. Some of those recipes...although good...were one-hit wonders. While others have become staples in our menus.
My soup-making is now an event that my family looks forward to. In fact, it's probably only one of the only things about the arrival of cold weather that they absolutely enjoy. We can all do without the cold and wind and snow and the long dark days of late fall and winter. Soup gets us through it.
While my daughter was in college--I had many soup emergency emails, calls and texts. I would love those shout-outs for specific soups. They would send me into the kitchen--deliriously happy--making big vats of whatever they asked for.
I wonder what those girls are eating now that my daughter is a college graduate.....
For as many soup recipes that I've tried, I have never attempted to make a cream of mushroom soup. I have no idea why but it just never occurred to me.
This past weekend, with 2 sets of out-of-town guests visiting and me holed up with dad duty, we had to figure out a way to not only feed everyone but also to do a bit of Pittsburgh-y entertaining. With about 3 hours to get away on Saturday afternoon, we decided to take one of the groups (the other group happened to be our daughter's sorority sisters who were lazing around at our house after spending Friday night at the city's young hotspots in Southside) to Mt. Washington to see the city in all its grandeur from this magnificent suburban perch high above the city. This particular group was visiting for the Pitt-Notre Dame game (a huge deal!). Since Carmen could not make it to the game due to his brother's 60th Birthday party that night, he wanted to make his time with these old friends as celebratory of the reason for their visit as possible. So, we decided to find a restaurant-bar atmosphere that would fit the casualness of football. Without much preplanning, we chose The Grandview Saloon . Little did we know that the place would be crawling with Guiness-drinking, Jamison-shot-taking Notre Dame fans---in all their glory, decked out in their Fighting Irish best. My husband and friends--having all attended Pitt---were the 6 lone Pitt fans in the place--all of them wearing their Pitt regalia. But, with little time to find another location, we huddled into a corner and made the best of the rocking atmosphere and the gorgeous view. When it came time to order lunch, I spied their "award winning cream of mushroom soup" on the menu. My choice was made. Soup. Award winning. Win. Win.
Yeah, well, I am not so sure how it won any award but I took it in stride......their wine list was good, the company was fun, I was happy to have some time to get away from my dad duties and did I mention that I was happy to have some time away from my dad duties?
Although the soup was not award-winning by any means, the creaminess of the soup and the faint taste of mushrooms was enough to wet my appetite for a good bowl of Cream of Mushroom Soup.
So, no sooner did I get back to my dad duties, I set about finding the perfect recipe. That's when I came upon Ina Garten's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup.
Ina is one of those cooks who I trust implicitly. Plus, I love when regular home cooks give their reviews of a recipe. With those two things going for it, I decided that I would use my free time on Sunday morning to get all of the ingredients before heading home to host a brunch for all of our visiting guests.......yes, I am a glutton for punishment (trust me, I made it very easy on myself--Panera catering is very helpful with these things!). Thankfully, the recipe itself does not call for anything too exotic--everything was easy to pick up at the little grocery store near my sister's house (where I was staying with my dad). After the brunch and everyone scattered to do other things, I set my sights on the recipe. It was an easy and enjoyable recipe to make--with enough "down time"....(waiting for the stock to cook, simmering, etc) so that I could tackle other little things in the meantime.
So, friends.....I think I've found another hit soup recipe. The only minor changes I made to this recipe were:
-In stead of discarding the veggies that I used for the stock, I put them through the food processor with a little of the stock (made a thick paste) and used it as a thickener and cut back on the flour and heavy cream (my version of making it "healthier")
-I added some fresh grated nutmeg at the end and let it simmer a bit (I love the taste of nutmeg in cream soups and sauces).
The soup was a huge, huge hit....with young and old alike. My father gobbled it down and asked for more (no shock there!), my daughter and her boyfriend devoured it and Carmen and I thought it was amazing. I served it with breads that I had leftover from brunch (sour dough, asiago and hearty wheat).....
Now, this was an award winning meal......with an award winning soup......
Thank You Ina!
Can't wait to eat leftovers tonight!!
Make this soup.....NOW!