a yummy substitute for maccas: cream of mushroom soup
I absolutely love soup. It’s the ultimate comfort food. It’s nourishing and satisfying. It takes on various forms and can be honed by its creator to suit the needs and desires of those who consume it (meaty, salty, garlicky, zesty… the list goes on). It can be light, it can be hearty, it can be hot or it can be cold. It’s fabulous.
I am not the first person to think this – soup is also as ancient as cooking itself. Over one thousand years ago, humanity perfected the art of combining certain ingredients with a tasty broth. This technique evolved according to which ingredients were available and suited the needs of both the rich and poor as it could be made with any kind of local produce, whether that be saffron (highly expensive) or onion (reasonably cheap and easy to find). Soup is also said to be the first item public restaurants served back in the 18th century in Paris.
Keeping this piece of trivia in mind, a couple of weeks ago I threw a dinner party with the intention of serving some kind of delicious soupy concoction. It needed to be filling, vegetarian and not too onion-y (as per the request of two of the guests).
I finally hit upon Cream of Mushroom Soup. I think mushrooms are fantastic substitute for meat in that they can bulk up a meal. They also act like sponges and absorb all the delicious flavours around them so that when you bite into one it’s an explosion of everything that’s been simmering away in the pot.
This recipe is very quick, and a perfect weeknight meal in the middle of winter. I hope you enjoy it!
Cream of Mushroom Soup
500g button mushrooms, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 shallots, chopped
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup of white wine (doesn’t have to be fancy but must be at least drinkable, e.g. a decent cleanskin)
1 litre chicken stock (I used the massel stock cubes as they have no animal content but still pack a punchy flavour)
½ cup thickened cream
Chives, chopped, to garnish
Combine the mushrooms and the lemon juice in a large bowl and let sit for five to ten minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot and add the garlic. Allow to cook for 1 minute until fragrant but not coloured. Add the shallot and cook for four minutes, stirring once or twice (you may have to turn the heart down to medium). Add the mushrooms and cooks for five minutes.
Add the flour and stir for one minute. Then, add the wine and cook for two minutes until the liquid is reduced a little (it’s important not to rush this step – if the wine doesn’t cook off it can make the soup taste acidic).
Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if need be.
Serve with chives sprinkled on top and crusty bread (I toasted mine with gruyere cheese).