Most soups are pretty easy to make , if you remember to always use a BROTH and not plain water. Here’s One:
CREAM OF MUSHROOM
1 lb. sliced mushrooms (your choice) I like to do a combination, and I often use more than one lb. regular white, Crimini, Baby portabellos, Big Portabellos, shitake, and even the ones that you have to hydrate. Just use whatever you like. Slice bite sized.
Saute mushrooms in a combination of butter and oil in a soup pot. Add about 1/2 grated onion, or 2 Tbs. Onion powder. The idea here is not to have chunks of onion in your soup.
When mushrooms are almost browned, sprinkle about 3 Tbs. cornstarch over them in the skillet and stir till they are coated.
Add 2 cups broth (I usually use chicken, but this is a wonderful vegetarian dish if you use vegetable broth–available at Smart & Final). Stir and simmer about 5 minutes, then add:
Your choice of heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or, my old standby: Canned evaporated milk. I use the whole can, to which I have added a Tbs. or two of cornstarch and shake out the lumps. Add it slowly to the simmering broth, and now add:
1/4 cup dry sherry. Simmer soup, thicken it to your liking, and at the very end, add about a tsp. of fresh grated nutmeg. I think this is the secret to mine–and it is pretty easy to find whole nutmeg now anywhere. If you can’t find it, just use the nutmeg in the spice aisle.
NOTE on SOUPS: Now you have a basic recipe. Next time use any mushrooms or any amount you like, and any milk you prefer!
NOTE ON BROTH: I’ve been teaching cooking for about 100 years, and anyone who has ever taken my classes knows I use the jarred soup bases such as “Better Than Bouillon”. I do not use cubes anymore as they are just too salty! But 1 tsp. of the base per 1 cup of hot water is just about right. Then it’s very easy to adjust the seasoning if you need the soup to have more flavor. But just do ONE Tsp. at a time!!! Otherwise, it gets to salty!…..ask me how I know……
ROASTED CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP
Of course this soup can be made with canned tomatoes by simply whirling them in a blender with broth. But here it is from scratch:
2 lb. Roma tomatoes, cut in half, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, and roasted on a cookie sheet with a sliced onion, some chopped carrot and celery, also tossed with olive oil for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. When tomatoes are roasted (just slightly browned), peel off peelings and put the tomatoes into a Soup pot. Add 2 cups Broth (again as above, chicken or vegetable), bring to a boil, turn down and simmer about 20 minutes. At this point you can either put the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender to smooth it out. When you get it nice and thick, add 2 cups cream, milk, or as above, Evaporated milk (1 can). Now you can adjust the thickness and the level of flavor. If it tastes dull, just add a tsp at a time of the soup base. TASTE after each addition. Soon you will be a soup Nazi! Here’s a little extra TIP: I almost always add a little agave, honey, or sugar to my tomato soups. About 1 or 2 tablespoons. It just makes it better!
POTATO CHEESE SOUP WITH SMOKEE LINKS
4 or 5 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
Chopped: 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 small onion
Put all above in a pot covered with water and boil until potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes)
Add beef or chicken or vegetable soup base, about 2 Tbs. to flavor the water. You should have at least 2 cups of water left. Add more if too dry. (again, go slowly with that soup base!)
At this point you decide if you like potato soup chunky or smooth. An immersion blender can smooth it a little. I like it a little chunky, so I only do it a few seconds. You should have at least 2 or 3 cups in the pot. Now add 1/2 box Velveeta*** cut into cubes and simmer soup till it is smooth and creamy. Sometimes I add a little more. Whatever you like! To this wonderful concoction, add about 1 or 2 cups milk or cream, AND 1/2 to 1 whole package Smokee links (you can slice them or leave them whole. Whatever your kids like). This is my daughter in law’s favorite soup!
***I know. I know. All you GOURMET COOKS would never DREAM of using Velveeta. Believe me, I have tried every concoction known to man of special, expensive, exotic cheeses. I have grated sharp, extra sharp, mild cheddars. And all kinds of white cheeses. I decided I had been a cheese SNOB for long enough. If God had meant us to spend our whole allowance on cheese, He NEVER would have invented good old VELVEETA!