When I was pregnant with Silas I was horribly sick. I was throwing up for at least 7 months. I spent a lot of time on the couch in front of the TV. During that time I discovered something: The Food Network. Never was I attracted to cooking shows before and I don’t actually remember when I took my first hit of them but it became an addiction. The whole cooking thing really fascinated me.
I soon learned that I could cook pretty well. And I started to get pretty adventuresome in the kitchen. Chef’s like Micheal Smith showed me how to put a lot of flavor into one meal and how to be free and creative while doing it. Being a TOTAL visual learner, I picked everything up really quickly.
Now, cooking is one of my favorite things to do. Being creative and adventurous in the kitchen is something I take great pleasure in. I love it. I love taking one ingredient and seeing where it leads me. Sometimes I have no idea what the outcome will be, I just begin to cook and I guess I can say I just follow where the ingredient is taking me.
I can’t ever follow a recipe to a T. Whether it be baking or cooking, I need to add my own flair, I just can’t help it. If I’m trying to make a traditional dish I usually glance at the recipe and then go my own way with it. I’m kind of like a crazy scientist in his laboratory with a bunch of bubbling concoctions.
My adventurous attitude about cooking has lead to some wonderful culinary discoveries. I’m starting to be known as someone who can cook up a fairly good plate of grub. Praise God for my husband who’s soooo good at following me on my “epicurious” journeys.
Today as we were looking through Save-On I came across the mushroom section. There was a big old wad of oyster mushrooms that sparked my interest. This weird wad of freaky looking brains hardly looked palatable but it sparked that feeling in me and I knew I had to do something with it. I placed them in a bag and also snatched up some dried chanetrelles, some regular old mushrooms and a couple portobellos. I was embarking on a journey through mushroom soup. It was going to be beautiful.
It did indeed turn out beautiful. My mouth is still tingling from the hot soup. It scored a 9 out of 10 on the husband-taste-o-meter (plus Silas ate it too!) so I thought for once I should write the recipe down and perhaps begin sharing my finds with you. I really need to begin writing everything down. So here it goes.
Matriarch Mushroom Soup
with crunchy garlic croutons.
Please remember that I don’t actually measure anything so use however much of something you want to use. Cooking is SO forgiving!
4 cups chopped mushrooms of your choice (I like making very uneven chops, makes for an interesting looking soup. If you choose dried mushrooms then reconstitute them first and then reserve the water you used to put in the broth…FLAVOR!)
1 large onion (I liked halving it each way and then slicing it so you get longer strings like french onion soup)
4 or 5 or 10 cloves garlic diced
1/4 cup unsalted soy sauce (Braggs is good)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Asian 5 spice (you’ll thank me later)
1 tsp dry mustard (I don’t know why…I just did)
1 tbs bullion (I use Better Than Bullion)
1 or 3 or 5 bay leaves (using lots gives a good background to your final flavor)
1/3 cup barley (or perhaps some orzo? Or wild rice? or how about soaking up all of the liquid with some cous cous? potatoes?)
some chopped beef I had leftover from last nights roast….totally optional. (perhaps some bacon would be really yummy?)
however much water your heart desires…I like it brothy! Or some broth…perhaps some red wine also? Or beer?
Your favorite bread
1 more clove garlic
Some cheese (a milder flavor. Tonight we had old cheddar and it’s strength kind of overtook things a little) cubed.
Now, sweat the onions in a little oil and remember to season with a little salt and pepper. Seasoning each step will give you a great full-flavored meal any time you cook. Add in all your delectable chopped mushrooms and fry the crap outta them. Well, sweat them on low first and then turn up the heat. You may want to also try cooking them before the onions for a very long time until they’ve completely sweated and browned (yummy brown flavor!). Add in everything else (season with s&p again…and perhaps again), bring to a boil and simmer until the barley is good and soft(20-30 minutes). You also might want to simmer it for a bit before adding the barley to draw out more mushroom flavor.
While everything is happily bubbling away, take a clove of garlic with a few tbsp oil and some salt and give it a good whirl in the food processor. Brush both sides of the bread with it and then place under the broiler. Keep and eye on it and flip it once it’s as dark as you like! Cut into squares.
Once everything is all lovely in the soup department (make sure to taste and perhaps season a but more) place some squares of cheese in the bottom of the soup bowl, pour the soup over the cheese and then top with the delicious croutons you just made and crack some fresh pepper on top. Don’t you feel fancy? Let it sit for a bit so everything can get a little gooey and a few croutons will soak up the soup and become delicious morsels of wonder. Garnish if you feel extra fancy.
Enjoy your soup! Remember to taste each different kind of mushroom in the soup and enjoy the differences between the flavors (perhaps taste them raw to really get an appreciation for how much flavor is drawn out when they’re cooked)! Then tell me how it goes.