If there’s one thing the downturn in weather condition in the latter days of September denotes, it’s that soup can once again make a legitimate claim to roughly a third of my diet. This year, the contrast in diet between summer and autumn seems particularly pronounced. As far as I can tell, the reason for this is two-fold; firstly, I was in Spain only a month ago, enjoying indecently balmy weather and; secondly, the weather in Britain really is living up to its reputation. Indeed, as far as I can tell, whole cities have been swept away by torrents of water, so comprehensive has the media coverage been here. However, as has been suggested, the weather hasn’t had a particularly negative effect on my diet since soup, one of my favourite types of food, is back on the menu!
Let’s face it, tinned mushroom soup tends to be a bit of a let-down and since it’s not particularly frugal to spend money on something which isn’t enjoyed or appreciated, I thought it high time to rectify my mushroom soup woes. Happily, no such disappointment was experienced when tucking into this particular meal; the entire bowl was all flavour and creaminess. For this recipe I used chestnut mushrooms because they are reasonably priced and extremely flavoursome. However, I am fully cognisant of the fact that mushroom variety and price depends on the area in which you live. Go with the most economical and local mushrooms you possibly can, as long as they harbour a strong flavour.
As far as creaminess is concerned, most people seem to use mascarpone to achieve similar results. I don’t really understand this because soft or cream cheese yields the same, or even a more interesting, flavour and texture at around half the price! Please enjoy my first soup of autumn 2012 – it’s a good one!
Creamy Mushroom Soup
• 500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
• 1 onion, diced
• 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
• 2 tbsp fresh rosemary or thyme, finely chopped
• 750ml chicken or vegetable stock
• 200g full or half fat cream cheese
• Olive oil to serve
• Salt and pepper if necessary
1. Begin by frying off the sliced mushrooms along with the onion, garlic and rosemary or thyme, in a little olive oil. Cook the mushrooms for long enough to allow them to release excess water – 5-7 minutes on a high heat. If you don’t have a hand blender if would be best to purée them now.
2. Tip the mushroom purée into a large pan, top up with the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cream cheese and allow it to melt. Simmer for a further 5-10 minutes before serving alongside bread with a drizzle of oil. Remember to purée it before serving if using a hand blender.
Cost: Wherever you are I’m sure there’s a relatively cheap variety of mushroom lurking. For me, each punnet of chestnut mushrooms costs £1 and contains 250g. In my book, such a price is most cost-effective. As such, this rather large pot of delicious soup should set one back roughly £3.10! Lovely.