Potato, Leek and "Chestnut Mushroom" Soup
The weather has been really wonderful here the past couple of days- blue skies, sunshine... but undeniably COLD and very much Fall weather... but that's ok by me! Fall is probably my favorite season and that for many reasons. The colors of the leaves is breathtaking, the return to wearing proper clothing rather than shorts and flip-flops is more than welcome for me and the switch back to heartier, more comforting fare is also nice. I love soups at the best of times and would even trade my salad for a soup on a hot Summer's day given the choice!
This is a very simple soup I whipped together in 15 minutes this evening. I had to make it quick, because otherwise I would have started nibbling on snacks and I didn't want to do that. I reckoned a soup would be a more sensible thing to indulge in- as well as actually being a lot more satisfying than some nibbles... and this is how I made it...
In any case these are tasty mushrooms, but they are very moist compared to most once you start to cook them- although they are bone-dry to the touch and not soft when they are raw. Strange. So definitely do not wash them or you will only make things worse! Brush them off or rub them gently clean with a paper towel. Make sure your frying pan is very hot and use only the tiniest amount of butter or oil. Once they are brown on either side, squash them down with your wooden spoon so that you squeeze some of the liquid that accumulates out of them. It ain't rocket science- but it will make for much more pleasant eating later! Only salt them towards the end of the cooking time, as the salt also draws the moisture out of them and you will end up with a soggy mess in the pan.
So I fried myself up one mushroom, in slices, for my garnish. The soup was made as follows. I sautéed some onion, garlic, celery leaf and finely grated carrot in butter, seasoning with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. I then added 1 medium sized potato per person, finely grated- and stirred like crazy! I added a handful of finely chopped parsley- stalks and all and splash of boiling water and kept stirring till it was absorbed- and continued doing this for a while- just as you would do making a risotto. I then boiled a half a cup of boiling milk and put it into my mixer with a couple of the mushrooms and then whizzed them together. This went back into the potato soup mix and I carried on stirring. Next came the finely sliced leeks and then I let it simmer gently for another 10 minutes or so.
After 10 minutes, the potato should have cooked down to nothing and the soup should be thick and creamy. Great isn't it?- especially as we have not used any cream! But the milk will give that nice, mild creamy flavor and we can save ourselves some calories... and that IS great- isn't it?
Serve with the mushroom slices, a pinch of cayenne and a good sprinkle of parsley on top- delicious!