Tuesday, 22 April 2014

S is for Soup

I feel like I’m constantly disparaging my Mother’s reputation as a cook, but Susie Homemaker she was not. We were fed well, and with a sometimes creative flair, but preparing meals was not her end all be all, her art was. I understand how it is to get lost in the creative process, and lose track of time only to realize it was dinner time and there was nothing prepared.

The only homemade soup I remember my Mom preparing was a potato soup. It wouldn’t have appealed to anyone who liked a thick soup, as this soup, even though it had a milk base, was as thin as a chicken noodle broth. I’ve made it over the years and have always loved it. She would chop onions and celery into fine pieces and sauté them in butter. Then she boiled the potatoes, also cut into small pieces, in just enough water as to cover, adding the sautéed vegetables. When the potatoes were cooked she added the milk and let it warm up, on low temperature. If you let it boil you get that milk film over the top.

I remember this soup was usually served with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Years later, when the kids and I were living in Toronto, we would go to Bloor West Village to a bakery restaurant called Bread and Roses. We would have soup and a sandwich, often sitting out on the sidewalk patio, and take home some fancy sweet for a treat. This is where I found that creamed soups were thick and…creamy.

I am still not a big soup fan; never order it out unless I try a French Onion Soup, which is a meal in itself. In the last few years I have taken to making soup, usually a French Onion, or the steadfast potato of my youth. And then I began making creamed vegetable soups, like broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus, soups that used the leftover bits of vegetables.

I bought some fresh mushrooms the other day, not sure why exactly, as I had no specific recipe in mind. I could always fall back on the old sautéed mushrooms on toast, but hey, no more toaster oven, and toast made in the big oven sucks.

So I made a homemade cream of mushroom soup that was absolutely nothing like the creamed soup from a can.

I cut the mushrooms and onions in fine pieces and sautéed them in butter, with some crushed garlic. I then peeled a couple of potatoes, diced them and boiled them in enough water to cover, until tender. As the potatoes were cooking, I added a chicken stock bouillon cube to the water along with the other vegetables. I mashed the potatoes a bit, to thicken the soup. When the potatoes were cooked I added milk to the pot and set it on low, to heat it through. This is an updated version of Mom’s cream of potato soup.

Now if I were serving this to a family, I would probably add bread or a homemade biscuit, along with a salad, but for me the soup was enough. And it was delicious.

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