Monday, November 14, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Spicy Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup brings back recollections of getting my wisdom teeth pulled in Korea. But for some reason, that memory is not as dismal as one might expect.

Drawing by Taryn (tarale), Flickr (Creative Commons license)

I had been living in the country for about six months when one of my wisdom teeth really started bothering me. I was teething, all over again. But this time around, the dull, occasionally aching pain reached an annoying and nearly unbearable crescendo.

An ESL teacher is paid, even if poorly, to speak intelligible English in public and can't be grumpily slurring words. Just before a long institute vacation, I went to a dental clinic within walking distance of my hagwon in Chuncheon.

"All of your wisdom teeth need to be pulled," the dentist told me, "not just the one that hurts. All of them."

So out they came, all except one without significant cutting. No horror stories. No melodrama. (Except, I learned that practice does make perfect for dentists injecting local anesthesia.)

The dentist commanded me to consume just juices, yogurt and ice cream the first day then graduate to soft foods over the next couple of days after that. My jaw started to swell a bit within an hour after I left the dentist's office and the swelling took some time to subside.

Once I was able to eat warm food, one of my main sources of nourishment was Ottogi powdered mushroom soup. Just pour some water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, add powder and whisk like mad for several minutes to keep it from getting lumpy. It's instant "nourishment" for someone functioning under a fog of pain medication, antibiotics and aching pain. Walking to the stove and warming that soup gave me a sense of accomplishment.

So, despite the unpleasantness of getting my wisdom teeth pulled, I bear no hard feelings against mushroom soup and still eat it from time to time (even the Ottogi version) with pleasure.



This month, the Secret Recipe Club directed me towards Foodiva's Kitchen to find a recipe to re-create for you.  Her recipe for Spicy Creamed Mushroom Soup with Toasted Almond Brittle inspired my wave of nostalgia. I decided not to make the almond brittle because the mushroom soup recipe was inspiring enough.

I did make a couple of adaptations to the original recipe. I only had a quart of chicken broth in my pantry. Since the recipe calls for 11/2 quarts of chicken broth, I adapted by replacing the other 1/2 quart of broth with 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons soy sauce.

Spicy Mushroom Soup

by Foodiva's Kitchen (deviations italicized, except conversion to imperial units)
Serves: 4
Ingredients
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced into chunks
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water 
2 tablespoons guk ganjang (Korean soy sauce made for soups)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper (or you could do 1/2 tbsp of black, 1/2 tbsp white)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
6 tablespoons butter
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 shallots, diced
1 tablespoon fresh chives
4 tablespoon plain flour
1 cup heavy cream
Directions
  1. Bring broth with 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons soy sauce to a boil and add the mushrooms, ground pepper, rosemary and thyme. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer while you prepare the next step.
  2. In another pan, melt the butter and fry the garlic, shallots and chives for two minutes or so before adding the flour. Cook for at least two minutes, then pour five cups of the hot soup into the roux slowly. Whisk with each addition to avoid lumps, then pour this mixture back into the soup pot. Stir further under medium heat for about two minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat and blend using a handheld mixer directly in the pot. Blend until you achieve your desired smoothness. I encourage you to leave a little evidence of the mushroom texture.
  4. Whisk in the heavy cream. Keep soup warm, but do not boil, until time to serve.

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