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January is National Soup Month here in the USA. Good thing because most of my country is freezing right now. Here are two soups that make a perfect start for dinner or an ideal lunch when a salad and fresh bread are added. Stay warm!

female chef

Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • 1 lb. fresh mushrooms – use 2 or 3 different types
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • 2 small shallots or scallions, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1 qt. chicken stock *
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • White pepper**

Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Pull the stems and caps apart. Put pieces in a food processor. Run until chopped. The mix will almost look like a paste. Or fine dice the mushrooms by hand.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10-12 inch skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside.

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Do NOT let this brown too much or it will be bitter. The roux should be no darker than a caramel/tan.

Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool 10-15 seconds, then pour in the stock while whisking constantly. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and stir until the soup base thickens and is smooth, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms and sherry. Simmer for 15 minutes, but be sure to stir occasionally.

Blend the egg yolks into the cream with a whisk. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ¾ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup. ***

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with pepper.

Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.

This recipe makes 6 bowls

*You can substitute up to half the amount with dry white wine

**In this recipe white pepper is used for its slightly sharper taste. There is no need to make a special trip to buy white pepper. Black pepper will work fine, just use a little more.

***This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the yolks and cream will curdle.

Potato Soup

Potatoe Soup

  • 5 cups white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups leeks, sliced thin, include 2” of green
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped
  • ¼ heaping cup carrot, scraped and chopped
  • 5 cups (40 oz.) chicken stock, my favorite brand is Kitchen Basics
  • ½ tsp. marjoram
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • 2 pinches allspice
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp. chives, finely cut – parsley works well, too

Simmer the potatoes, leeks, celery, carrot, herbs, and stock in a heavy 6-quart saucepan until the vegetables are tender, 30-40 minutes.

Run the soup though a food processor to break up larger chunks or mash by hand. Do not use a blender. The soup will be too smooth. Return soup to the saucepan.

Season with pepper. Pour the cream into a measuring cup. Stir in 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ½ cup. Reverse the process and slowly stir the now-warm cream into the soup. This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the cream may curdle.

Heat the soup thoroughly, but do not to boil it.

Ladle into a tureen or individual bowls. Garnish with chives or parsley.

Leftovers freeze well.

Serves 8

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