Roasted Mushroom and Bean Soup

mushroom.cropJesus, Mary, and Joseph. I’ve found the perfect soup.

Just in case you think I’m exaggerating, let me say two words: roasted mushrooms. Oh, and roasted onions. And roasted garlic. Did I mention the roasted mushrooms? And herbs! Fresh thyme and sage. And wine. Because there is always wine.  Ok, that was more than two words. But wow. onion.crop

I cook a lot—I like to cook—but there are only a few recipes that make it into my personal canon. These are the best of the best, the tip of the top, my go-to, these-just-make-life-better, recipes.

These recipes are easy—things that I just throw together–but although basic, they are somehow so fundamental that they are just perfect. These are the recipes that could work for something fancy or for a cozy weeknight at home. Recipes that aren’t about eating—well, not just about eating—they’re more about my idea of living. They are simple, healthy, elegant. I call them classy, though I can’t quite define that term. These are the flavors that just click with me–the recipes that I can see myself making in ten years, in  twenty years, for kids, for grandkids, writing ingredient lists out on recipe cards that will be taped to refrigerators just like my Grannie’s recipe cards are on mine.

Anyway… this is one of those recipes. This is adapted (pretty closely, but with a few tweaks) from Amy’s recipe at She Wears Many Hats so… hats off to her.

And without further ado: Roasted Mushroom and Bean Soup

Here’s what you need:

16-20 oz. of mushrooms, roughly chopped into large pieces*
2 large sweet onions, quartered (leave the pieces large and don’t separate the layers)
3 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed
2 tbsp of olive oil
8-10 sage leaves*
8-10 thyme stalks and leaves*
6 cups of chicken broth **
3 cans of white beans, undrained
1/2 cup of white wine (optional)
* Next time I make this, I plan to use some canned or jarred mushrooms in addition to fresh, and to substitute dried herbs for the fresh. This wasn’t terribly expensive, but fresh mushrooms and fresh herbs keep it a little beyond the present budgetary restrictions.
** Exchange the chicken broth for vegetable to make this vegetarian

Here’s what you do:

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.) Toss onion and garlic with 1 tbsp of olive oil, spread on a baking sheet; toss mushroom with 1 tbsp of olive oil, spread on another baking sheet. (Both are going in the oven at the same time, so choose baking sheets accordingly.) Sprinkle contents of both baking sheets with about 1 tsp of salt and pepper and herbs.  2.19.12 0373.) Roast onion, garlic and mushroom in oven for 10 minutes, then toss and roast for another 15 minutes.
4.) Meanwhile, back at the castle… Combine chicken broth and beans in a large stock pot, heat to medium heat. Toss in a bit of salt and pepper and let it all simmer while the veggies are finishing. Go ahead and add the white wine, if you are using it. 2.19.12 0545.) Separate 2 cups of beans (a slotted spoon works wonderfully) and 1 cup of broth from the simmering pot and transfer to your blender. Add the roasted onion and garlic and puree until smooth.
6.) Add the pureed beans and onions back to the stock pot, add the roasted mushrooms to the stock pot, let it all simmer for a few minutes while you’re toasting some bread…soup

And voilà! Absolute deliciousness. I had mine with toasty French bread while watching Midnight in Paris.  But whatever you choose as accompaniment, you’ve gotta try this stuff.  soup.1

Sunday Supper: Beefy Vegetable Soup

In an attempt to continue to expand my culinary horizons, I’m challenging myself to try a new recipe each week.
I’ll relate my triumphs and failures here, just in time for your Sunday supper.
 food collage

I’m not the most organized person in the world. Or let me put that in a less self-critical way—I have a lot going on right now. Things like planned-out trips to the grocery, complete with shopping list, don’t always make it from the ideal to the actual. I tend to run in to the store for a bottle of Diet Coke, remember I’m out of ranch dressing, decide I need a few cans of soup halfway down aisle four and walk out with three bags full of things that may or may actually make a meal. Which is fine—I live less than a minute from the corner shop. It’s not like I’m going to starve if I don’t lay in provisions for the long, hard winter.  Or that we really have long, hard winters here in South Carolina.

Because of my slightly random method of shopping, I often end up with multiples of things I use frequently. Which would be lovely, if space were unlimited. Since is definitely not unlimited, the four bags of frozen peas in the freezer are kind of  cramping my style.

I’m getting braver in the kitchen (yay!), and I’ve had a bit of a revelation: all of the recipes for, say, chicken dumplings are essentially the same. If I can learn to do the basics—and those are really basic and seem to be more about proper tools than anything else—then it’s just a matter of finding the recipes that I prefer. Recipes that go together quickly, that don’t require things not usually in my pantry, that taste good to me, and that do what I need them to do (like freeze and thaw well or use up extra stuff in the freezer)–that’s really all I need.

So instead of framing this cooking thing I’m doing as a learning experience—me as the  acolyte to some god of cooking—I’m actually just interviewing the recipes. Some work, some don’t, some are a bit too high-maintenance to be happy here, some will be used fourteen more times before Christmas. I’m not sure why that seems such an important distinction—but it shifts the power back to me. And hey, I’m in favor of anything that makes me feel more in control of my life.

This Beefy Vegetable Soup was sort of a start out with this, let’s throw that in, and oh, that’s about to go bad so throw that in too type recipe. And it was delicious. I’ll tell you what I did—just in case you want a detailed recipe–but you could easily switch out the veggies for whatever you have too much of, switch the ground beef for that bit of ground turkey that’s been hanging out in your freezer for too long… whatever. Make it up as you go. It’ll be delicious, you’ll see.

Here’s what I used: 10.29.11 095

  • 1 pound of ground meat (I used 1/2 a pound of breakfast sausage and 1/2 a pound of ground beef.)
  • an onion
  • a few potatoes
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz size)
  • veggies: I used half a bag of baby carrots, chopped into medallions; a 16 oz bag of frozen corn; a can of diced tomatoes; and about 20 oz (a bag and a half) of frozen peas.
  • a clove of garlic, salt, pepper

Here’s what I did:

  • Sautee onion and garlic together, until onion is soft and translucent, in a large soup pot.
  • Add meat and brown it.

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  • Add can of crushed tomatoes to pot, then fill the can with water and add that to pot as well. (This is the base of the soup—add more water as you’re cooking if it seems too thick. The more veggies I added, the more water I added. Since we’re not working with precise quantities, it’s more of a how it looks to you kind of thing.)
  • If you’re using any other cans of tomatoes (I did, because I wanted a few tomato chunks in the soup) go ahead and add that now.
  • Add the solid vegetables: carrots and potatoes

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  • Simmer for 20 minutes. Grab a spoon and check the carrots and potatoes at the end of that time. They shouldn’t be crunchy—depending on how big your pieces were, you might need to add a bit more time.
  • While the soup is simmering, thaw any frozen vegetables you’re using. I had 2 steamer bags, so I could put them straight in the microwave. If you’ve got traditional bags, then put the vegetables in a microwave safe bowl, add enough water to cover, 10 minutes in the microwave (or look at the instructions on the back of the bag) and drain. Canned vegetables? just drain and add to soup.
  • Add the frozen veggies as soon as they aren’t frozen anymore.
  • Soup is done when the vegetables are done. 

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And good god, is it delicious. I think I’ve eaten four bowls of it in the past 24 hours. The tomato base makes it really tangy, the meat kind of mellows it out and all of those vegetables just make you feel invincible.

This took about 40 minutes—maybe 15 minutes actually standing at the stove or chopping, the rest just waiting on things to simmer, and it made so much soup that I’m pretty sure I could feed the entire resistance. If, you know, that’s what I needed to do.