1 leek, chopped
Leeks are an adventure. The first time I knowingly had leeks was a chicken in leek and truffle sauce at Butler Terrace and it was incredible. My boss took me there for my 21st Birthday, I also had my first glass of non-religious wine.
So yes, my 21st birthday blowout was an exclusive gourmet restaurant and one glass of an excellent sommelier recommended red.
I may have been an actor, but starving wasn't really the issue. But eating with the rich adults I worked for was a waaay better introduction into the land of the grown than the benders my friends barely remember and I can still taste the succulent interplay of the crisped chicken and the truffle sauce at the edge of my tongue when I think about that luncheon. That and the way the flavors deepened and changed with a sip of wine in the middle of the afternoon.
I will never understand anyone who drinks to excess. It kills the taste.
But then I did not know what part of the meal was holding the leeks, and though I have had many things that claimed to have leeks in them I still did not know what they were.
To make this soup I found leeks and discovered they were actually a little complicated.
They are long and tube like with long green stalks and then a section of white celery looking area, and I wasn't sure which way to chop them or which parts to chop. So I prepped other things first and my Dearest Friend looked it up. It seems that the green parts are of limited use and only for things like soup stock so I chopped up 1 leeks worth of greens and saved the white for use in the soup proper.
1 onion, chopped
Should have been easy really, but the Dearest friend buys his green things from a farm collective and the onions were small, but flavorful locally grown reds. I used three.
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 sprig of tarragon
1 sprig of thyme
1 1/2 gallons of water
The Less Caffeinated Coffee Poppet thought the Tarragon was very pretty, a little like laurel leaves.
My Very Dearest Friend's mother lives next door at the third house from the beach and has an herb garden so the sprigs were plucked washed in plopped immediately into the pot.
Place ingredients in a tall saucepan. Add water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour.
Strain. Refrigerate leftovers
Longwood Gardens Mushroom Soup
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 leek, washed and diced
Remember the leek had the white part at the bottom? Well this is it.I was expecting it to be tubular and celery like but it was tubular and more like an oblong onion.
I have a pretty strong reaction to onions that can sometimes cause me several hours of painful eyes so please believe me when I tell you I was unprepared for the leek basically being a celery looking onion. Apparantly when I announced the similarity, squinting elegantly, my Perfectly Normal Husband said - "Of course it is, why didn't you have me do it?" Well dicing is different than chopping and since I had never done this particular object in a diced manner I needed to do it once to hand it off so I could know what it looked like.
This is what it looked like. Next time I will wear my steampunk goggles.
2 shallots, diced
Shallots. Shallots I know. I learned about them making flashed green beens with crispy shallots on a another Massachusetts Vacation. Once again it's important to remember that diced is not the same as chopped.
3 stalks of celery, diced
Celery looked and behaved just like celery. It was something of a comfort really.
1/4 cup of chopped thyme
I wasn't sure, since I had just harvested the thyme whether or not to chop the stems. I opted not to. I strafed the leaves off the stems and chopped the leaves. I probably should have taken more pictures of that process but this is what the leaves should look like when you''re done.
Now for the many types of Mushrooms. There is a very fancy gourmet store called Sid Weiner's and we went there and shopped like we were still in boom times. It's vacation!
1 cup of shitake mushroom caps, julienned
I have before and after pictures of each mushroom because I learned a while ago that people don't know some old school cooking terms like "fold" or" Julienned"
To pop out a mushroom stalk and just get the cap you kind of wiggle it firmly between your fingers and the stalk kind of pops off the cap. It's messier with the shiitake mushrooms, but it still works.
Julienned means sliced longways and evenly with the slice next to it. I guess a bunch of you probably know that anyway, the same way that you know that dice means cross cut evenly into the closest thing you can get to squares, but all the same when you have to take "fold the bluberries gently into the batter" and replace it with "stir slowly and gentley" on the commercial stuff I figure better safe than sorry. Because folding is related to stirring but not the same at all and I'll bet there are a lot more broken blueberries in muffins now.
1 cup of crimini mushroom caps, quartered
Crimini mushrooms were new to me. I'm sure I've eaten them before, but they were cooked and I did not know it. They look like button mushrooms' older more sophisticated sisters, who've been to exotic places and come back with really chic hairstyles.
The picture at the top is a Coffee Poppet seeing if "Mushroom Cap" works literally.
Here is what they look like when they are quartered.
1 cup of oyster mushrooms, julienned
Oyster Mushrooms look like fleshy alien shambling mounds have invaded your kitchen. I have never seen them in natural bunches before and I was worried that they would break apart and how the heck am I supposed to julienne them? And will they take over my brain if I try?
It ends up I had seen them separated in packages sometimes . I flipped the mound over on it's belly and started lifting one sort of flap looking thing at a time and separated them into individual mushrooms.
They looked like this when the poppets and I were done.
Then I was wondering since they didn't really have clear stalks if I should julienne the stalks too, but when you julienne them they become frilly and you just keep julienning until it doesn't look frilly any more.
1/ 2 cup of sherry wine
2 quarts of hot mushroom stock (see above)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of chopped tarragon
The tarragon gave me some trouble in the long run because it's slightly chop-resistant when fresh. If I had my knives at home this wouldn't have been an issue. But I strongly recommend sticking with fresh tarragon because it's the real flavor contrast to the mushrooms for this soup.
Salt and pepper to taste
When all your ingredients are chopped and diced and julienned and quartered and ready for the cooking part they will look like this:
Sautee the shallot and celery in the oil and butter until the leeks are translucent:
Add thyme, salt ( about a teaspoon to start) and pepper.
I made sure to have a pot big enough to do the sauteing in so that I didn't have to transfer from a pan to a pot and possibly lose some of the seasoning.
Add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms wiltand release their liquid.
Add sherry wine and then reduce by half.
I think in this case reduce by half means the volume of the mixture and not
the heat, but I did not reduce by half I reduced by about a third since I wasn't sure.
Add hot mushroom stock and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add cream and tarragon.
Let simmer for five minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Finish with truffle oil.
If you stop there you will get a delicious but more broth-like mushroom soup. I wanted the thicker cafeteria version from Longwood so I kept it on low non-simmer heat for another two hours.
Then I added more salt. It was delicious.
When I do this again I will change three things. I will be adding more cream, I will be using a better grade of sherry (and perhaps a bit more of it) and I will be using more butter on the sauté.
When it was done I had this:
Now I can make Mushroom Soup from scratch. But I think it will only be for special occasions - like having lots of time and mushrooms.