soup is on: baby bella mushroom soup

Still balancing out the shopping and cooking for one or two on the weekdays and shopping for four just out of habit.  Baby bella mushrooms (juvenile portabellos also called cremini mushrooms) looked so tempting at 2 boxes for $4 so I brought them home with no particular plan as to how to use them.  Even in my pretty new fridge they only last so long.  One evening I searched Fine Cooking's website for mushroom recipes because time was almost up on two whole boxes and I'm really trying not to waste food.  I also had some amazing applewood smoked/brown sugar bacon from a local butcher that would be criminal to waste so I decided on making a variation of a wedge salad to go with the soup.  Greg loves butter lettuce and Costco basically gives it away so the salad part of the soup and salad dinner was easy.   I know a wedge is supposed to be iceberg lettuce, but butter lettuce with homegrown chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, really good bacon and a lovely homemade yogurt-buttermilk ranch dressing is a good twist on a wedge.  I also know a wedge is supposed to feature bleu cheese, but one out of two of us does not like bleu cheese so buttermilk ranch would be another twist.  Penzey's spices makes a perfect buttermilk ranch blend that I add to a little plain Greek yogurt and thin with a little lowfat buttermilk and just a drizzle of olive oil.  But even I can admit the best part of that whole salad was the bacon.  I'm not a bacon person and the bacon trend is a little out of control.  But that bacon from Moody's butcher shop.....mmm.
buttermilk "wedge" salad

I have a bunch of vegetarian friends and before I lose them all with bacon musings, I'll give you my recipe adapted from Fine Cooking for mushroom soup.  I did not add cream to my soup because it was lovely without it, but please feel free to stir in a little!

Baby Bella Mushroom Soup

1 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10-ounce) boxes sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves plus 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
freshly ground pepper and kosher salt
4 C chicken or vegetable broth
3 T dry sherry
1 T soy sauce
1/4 C half and half or cream, optional

Heat the butter and olive oil in a 5-qt or larger stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until it just begins to brown, about 5 minutes, stirring just once or twice.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms, thyme, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms have released most of their juices, 7-10 minutes.  Add the broth and scrape up any brown bits from the pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly and process half the soup in a blender until mostly smooth or use an immersion blender to puree the soup in pot.  Mine did not puree all the mushrooms, but the bigger pieces were toothsome and nice in the finished soup so however your texture turns out, don't worry about it.  If you used a blender, return the soup to the pot and stir in the sherry and soy sauce.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Reheat if needed.  Add half and half or cream just before finishing keeping the heat low.

simmering soup

immersion blender working it's magic

finished soup,
a pretty picture of soup in a bowl somehow was never taken
maybe we were hungry!


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