mushrooms

a healthier cream of mushroom soup

I’ve been craving some good old fashioned cream of mushroom soup for weeks.

 a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was growing up I had two working parents, so a lot of my afternoons were spent at my grandmother’s house out in the country in upstate New York. We always ate really well (too well, probably) at Grandma’s house, and lunch was always a big deal. Soup and sandwiches was a pretty popular lunch time menu, but I hated tomatoes when I was young so mushroom soup (from a can of course) was how I rolled.

I don’t know what kid likes mushrooms but not tomatoes, but what can I say. I was a weird kid I guess.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I think of all the gorgeous tomatoes that I missed out on, grown in the bright sunshine of my grandfather’s garden, it makes my heart ache. What was wrong with me? What a sad boring life I led.

One of my great grandmother’s favorite lunches in the summer was a thick-sliced fresh tomato sandwich on white bread with a little mayonnaise and a generous sprinkle of salt. I, however, usually opted for velveeta grilled cheese (baked, not fried) with a bowl of cream of mushroom soup.

Mushroom soup has always felt like a perfect comfort food ever since.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I recently dug around for recipes to satisfy my mushroom soup cravings, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by how heavy most of them sounded. I’m sure you know by now that I’m not shy about using real butter and cream, but Jeez Louise! One recipe, from my best-friend-in-my-head Ina Garten, called for a whole stick of butter, a cup of half and half, and a cup of heavy cream!

I knew there had to be a way to make a silky, creamy, rich & hearty cream of mushroom soup without using that much dairy and fat, but was having a hard time figuring it out. Then a friend at work reminded me that I already know the perfect secret ingredient!

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaaaaaaawwwwwhhhhh! Look at how that beauty glows! Can you hear the angels singing?

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve already used this trick before, when making corn chowder this summer, and I guess I somehow just forgot about it. When I was whining about how heavy and fattening homemade cream of mushroom soup was, my friend was like, why don’t you just do that roasted cauliflower trick?

Duh!

Roasting cauliflower in the oven, rather than boiling it with the rest of the soup, keeps it from tasting cabbage-y, and once pureed super smooth, it adds an unbelievably silky texture that you’d truly never guess didn’t come from cream thickened with a roux. I don’t even understand how or why this works so well, but it really does.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wasn’t intending to make a vegetarian or vegan cream of mushroom soup, just a lighter version, so I went ahead and kept the chicken stock and (some of) the butter. I also intended to add in just a bit of milk or cream at the end, but once the roasted cauliflower was pureed in, I realized I didn’t even need to. With that in mind, I now realize that it would be really easy to make this soup vegan if you want to. Just substitute olive oil or coconut oil for the butter, and vegetable (preferably mushroom) stock for the chicken stock. Since cauliflower is the only thickening agent, this soup also happens to be totally gluten free!

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

This soup is just what the doctor ordered. It’s so earthy and rich and… mushroomy. Using three varieties of flavorful mushrooms makes sure that every bit packs a serious punch. White wine adds a luxe floral note, fresh thyme compliments the woodsy earthiness of the mushrooms, and fresh parsley finishes the soup with bright green herbal flavor. While this recipe is healthier than most, I would never call it a “diet” or “light” recipe because it tastes way too good to be “health food”, and because it does still call for a good bit of butter and olive oil.

Thanks to the pureed roasted cauliflower, this soup feels every bit as rich and satisfying as you could hope. Some of the mushrooms are pureed too, but I like to reserve a few so you get some meaty bites of them every so often. You can use an immersion blender or a standing blender to puree the soup, but I will say that a standing blender seems to get the soup just a bit more smooth and silky. I used an immersion blender though, because it works almost as well and just seems safer, easier, and less messy.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

A Healthier Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 small head of cauliflower
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter (or coconut or olive oil if desired)
2 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (I used cremini, portabello, & shiitake)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock  (or vegetable or mushroom stock)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roughly chop cauliflower into large florets. Toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and arrange in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roughly chop your mushrooms, removing and discarding any thick woody stems (especially the stems of portabello and shiitake). Heat butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large thick-bottomed pot. Once the butter is sizzling, add the mushrooms and thyme, lightly season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook the mushrooms until they have released most of their liquid. Remove two cups of the cooked mushrooms, letting liquid drain back into pot, and set aside.
Add the onions and the garlic, and cook for about a minute. Add the white wine, chicken stock, and half of the chopped parsley. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the roasted cauliflower.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée the soup until completely smooth and silky. Return the pot to the stove, add the reserved cooked mushrooms and remaining chopped fresh parsley. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more stock to thin to the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and bring back up to a simmer before serving.

Fettuccine with Roasted Mushrooms, Brown Butter & Sage

When I first met my husband he was a really picky eater. This was very difficult for me to deal with, being a relatively adventurous eater and lover of variety, but I tried to handle it as best I could. He even used to insist that he was “allergic” to a few certain foods, but over time I began to suspect that it was all in his head. He claimed to be allergic to eggs, but had no reaction if they were mixed into a cake or custard. For some reason his “allergy” was only an issue if the eggs were on their own, and when I pressed him on his symptoms he couldn’t really come up with any. Finally I was able convince him that he just didn’t like these foods, and didn’t actually have any real food allergies. He still won’t eat eggs, but at least now he admits that he just doesn’t like them.

fettuccine with roasted mushrooms, brown butter & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

One of the foods I was most upset about his being “allergic” to was mushrooms. I love mushrooms so much that when I considered a long term relationship with Russell, I mourned losing them. Once I was able to convince him he wasn’t allergic to them, and I got him to try them, surprise! He loved them! We eat mushrooms all the time, and as weird as this may sound, I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

The other night we went out with friends for dinner to celebrate Russell’s birthday. After a few minutes looking at the menu, Russell ordered a dish that wasn’t much more than sautéed mushrooms with fresh pappardelle pasta and butter. Of course, I had to try a bite, and I thought the sauce was perfectly simple and light, but was just a bit one-note to me. I decided, after my third Manhattan, that I could improve on this dish. I loved that it wasn’t overdone with cream and wine and cheese and stock, but thought it could just use a little boost. I started thinking that the best way to bring out the fresh lightness of the sauce would be just a bit of fresh herbs and maybe a hint of lemon to brighten it up.

fettuccine with roasted mushrooms, brown butter & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few days later I decided to go for it and see what I could do. I started with store-bought fresh pasta, going for fettuccine instead of pappardelle. If you have a pasta maker and want to go crazy, by all means. Homemade pasta would elevate this dish even more, but part of what I like about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to prepare. I think store-bought fresh pasta is a great way to get that homemade taste without the work, but I’m sure dried pasta would be fine too. For the sauce I used about a pound of mushrooms, opting for a mix of trumpet and Portobello for a nice varied earthy flavor. If all you can find is Portobellos they’ll work great on their own, but I wouldn’t use white button mushrooms because they’d probably be a bit bland.

The restaurant used butter for the base of their sauce, and I decided a nice way to make the flavor richer would be to brown the butter. When you brown butter, you’re essentially cooking the milk solids that are present in your butter, giving it a wonderful nuttiness and complexity. Brown butter is also great for baking.  Try it with cookies sometime, you’ll thank me. After the butter browned I added some finely chopped shallots and let them saute a bit to add some caramelized sweetness. Right before finishing the dish I added some fresh sage and lemon zest and tossed everything together.

fettuccine with roasted mushrooms, brown butter & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

I have a tendency to overdo meals a lot. I can take a meal that should take 45 minutes to prepare and spend the better part of an evening making it. This meal however, is anything but overdone. I am so proud of myself for letting this meal remain simple and easy. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a new era for me. An era where I can start dinner after work and have it on the table before bed time! If you work efficiently, from start to finish this meal can be ready to go in 30 minutes. Brown the butter while the mushrooms roast, saute the shallots while the pasta water comes to a boil, chiffonade the sage while the pasta is cooking. Use your time wisely. If you aren’t familiar with the term chiffonade, you basically take your sage leaves, roll them all up like a cigar, and slice them into super thin strips. This technique works really well for basil too.

fettuccine with roasted mushrooms, brown butter & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

There are not a million different things going on in this pasta dish, but every ingredient gets special treatment to make sure it imparts as much flavor as possible. Roasting the mushrooms concentrates their earthy flavor and makes them taste almost meaty. Browning the butter adds a nutty richness, and sauteing the shallots in the brown butter gives the sauce a caramelized sweetness. Fresh sage and lemon zest brighten the dish without overpowering it, adding a summery freshness that’s much-needed in this cold weather. Overall the simplicity of this dish is what makes it so tasty. So simple, so elegant, SOO delicious.

fettuccine with roasted mushrooms, brown butter & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

Fettuccine with Roasted Mushrooms, Brown Butter & Sage

1 lb fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of Portobello and trumpet)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium shallot, diced
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
5-6 sage leaves
zest of one lemon
16 oz fresh or 12 oz dry fettuccine

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large stockpot with water and a tablespoon of salt, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. While oven is preheating and water is coming to a boil, roughly chop your mushrooms. Toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, spread in an even layer on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast for 10-15 minutes or until most moisture has cooked off. While mushrooms are roasting, heat butter in a large skillet until it begins to brown and smell slightly nutty, this should take about 5 minutes. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and saute until they begin to caramelize. While pasta is cooking, add roasted mushrooms to sauce and saute for 5 minutes or until pasta is cooked. While pasta cooks, chiffonade your sage and stir it into the sauce with the lemon zest. Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss with tongs until well coated with an even distribution of mushrooms.

Mushroom, Leek & Sourdough Dressing

Okay. So. Here’s the thing.

When I was a kid, my grandmother always called stuffing, “dressing”. I would try my hardest not to give her side eye and move on with my day. I always thought, “it’s not Thousand Islands, it’s stuffing”. It seems that this is what happens below the Mason-Dixon line. Southerners tend to refer to the dish as dressing no matter what, and us Yanks always call it stuffing. I learned later that, at least in this situation, she was right. The real answer is that if you bake it stuffed inside of a bird (or anything else with a cavity to stuff), then yes, it is stuffing. That’s because you stuff with something it, but if you serve it on the side, baked separately, it is called dressing. That’s because, while they weren’t cooked together, you use one to “dress” the other.

mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, as much as it pains me to admit it, Grandma was right, and now I’m sharing a recipe for “dressing”. Look at me, sharing a Thanksgiving recipe over a full week before the big day! Aren’t I organized and proactive? Yep. Sure am. It’s almost like I’m a real blogger or something!

mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

As someone who truly LOVES food, both preparing and eating, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. The pies, the huge spread filled with a variety of veggies, the giant golden bird, and a feast that seems to go on all day, eating “dinner” in the early afternoon and going back for seconds and maybe even thirds between naps. Christmas is great, but in my family it can be a bit hectic and stressful, but on Thanskgiving you get all the food and all the family without the pressure. Even when I was a vegetarian, Thanksgiving was my favorite because I love all the sides almost even more than the Turkey itself.

mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

This year we’re not able to head home to be with family for Thanksgiving, so we’re hosting our own here in Brooklyn with a couple of friends. One of our guests is a vegetarian, so as much as I’d love to fill the dressing with sausage and chicken stock, I’ve thought of something just as good! This dressing is STUFFED (get it?) with the meaty texture and earthy flavor of mushrooms and the savory goodness of celery, onions, leeks & herbs.

mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Rather than buy a stale old bag of pre-cubed bread, I started with a fresh country sourdough loaf which I cut into 1/2 cubes. I like to trim the crusts off, especially the bottom crust, because they can be tough and chewy in the finished dressing. Once the loaf is completely cubed I dried them in the oven on 275 for 30 minutes or so, turning occasionally to prevent browning. Starting with fresh bread gives you a dressing with a firm custardy texture rather than the bread crumb mush that you sometimes end up with when you used boxed or bagged mixes.

mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

All the herbs and savory vegetables combine with the mushrooms in such a rich earthy way and make for such a flavorful dressing. Everyone, vegetarian on not, will love it. If you arent’ worried about making your Thanksgiving feast vegetarian friendly, you can definitely swap the vegetable stock for chicken or turkey.

Oh my god you guys, it’s just over a week away! I’m so excited!
It’s going to be a busy week!

mushroom, leek & sourdough dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Mushroom, Leek & Sourdough Dressing

5 tablespoons butter, divided
3 large leeks
1 small onion, diced
5 stalks celery, cut into large dice
coarse kosher salt & pepper
3/4 lb white button mushrooms, cut into large dice
1/2 lb portabello mushrooms, cut into large dice
2 tablespoons sage, finely chopped
2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped
8 cups sourdough, cut into 1 cubes and dried
3 to 4 cups vegetable (or chicken or turkey) stock
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare your leeks, slice the white and tender green parts in thin disks, and slice each disk in half. Discard the deep green leaves. Place all the sliced leeks into a bowl and top with cold water. Leeks are very sandy so this is important. scoop the leeks out being careful not to disturb the sand at the bottom of the bowl. Repeat, and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and saute onions and celery over medium high heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. When the onions are getting soft and translucent, after about 5 minutes, add all of your mushrooms, leeks and herbs. Turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the leeks are soft and tender. Mushrooms have a lot of moisture so this could take up to 20 minutes or so. Remove mixture from heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool completely.

Add bread crumbs into cooled mushroom mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in stock and adjust seasoning if needed. Stir in eggs and transfer mixture to a 2 quart oven safe dish. Dot the top with remaining butter and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil and bake 25 minutes more.