Tuesday, August 24, 2010

release/cream of mushroom soup

So, today I was finally cut free, the wires locking my jaw in place replaced with the far more forgiving rubber bands. I still can't really chew, but I can open my mouth and that is enough! On the down side, the past month has NOT been good to my poor teeth. I couldn't stop crying when I was finally able to open my mouth and see just how disgusting they had gotten. I am terrified that this is going to have a long term effect on my teeth, but hopefully a prompt trip to the dentist once the rest of the wires and rubber bands are removed will reverse all the damage. Say a prayer on that one.

Anyway. Nasty teeth and blackened tongue aside, today should be a day for celebration, as much as they dampened any enthusiasm I was initially feeling. I took the rest of the day off from work, and I'm going to see Salt with Paul at 5:20. Then, at 8:00, I'll meet Jess, Grace and Laura for whatever soft Mexican food I can gum down at Toloache, which is celebrating its third anniversary with live music and $3 margaritas. I was hoping to try the manchego cheese quesadilla with truffles and huitlacoche salsa, but I'm not too sure that'll work out in this stage of recovery. Even so, more foods are possible for me this afternoon than they were this morning, and despite the general unpleasantness of a liquid diet, I did eat some good things this past month.

cream of mushroom soup

For instance, this soup was the most delicious and perfect of all those that I made during my mouth's incarceration. For those of you who are counting, that includes zucchini basil soup, corn soup, tomato soup and broccoli chard soup. It also includes sad soupy guacamole, runny hummus and pureed ratatouille, overly oniony gazpacho, and overly green-tasting spinach and carrot soup, not to mention one horrendous experiment with liquefied pork fried rice that you should count yourself lucky to have never ingested. Considering how poor so many of those eating experiences were, you might think this soup is only good by comparison, but I assure you that is not the case. This soup is genuinely delicious, liquid diet or no.

Because my mom is awesome and thoughtful, she bought some mushrooms and made some chicken stock before I arrived home last Thursday, with the idea that I could make a mushroom soup. I love my mom.

If I had known what she was up to, I would have brought home some of the gorgeous dried porcini mushrooms Nathan had brought me back from the San Lorenzo Market in Florence. I'm sure they would have upped the deliciousness ante, but this soup was singing with mushroom flavor even though we only used lame generic white button mushrooms from the supermarket. Using the smitten kitchen as a general guide, we came up with a deliciously light and creamy mushroom soup that was quite similar to the mushroom ravioli dish I made in this blog's infancy.

Anyway, first I sauteed some onions with salt and pepper in hot olive oil. Once they were nice and soft, I added a package of mushrooms, which I had cleaned with a paper towel and sliced thinly. I also tossed in a couple of cloves of minced garlic and a small knob of butter. I cooked all that for about 15 minutes, which is probably why everything tasted so strongly of mushrooms in the end. They got nice and brown, even though I probably could have given them more space to breath. (You know, "don't crowd the mushrooms!" and all that.)

At that point, I added my mom's chicken stock, which she had reheated in a separate pot. She says this is to kill off any bacteria that might have been breeding in there. Normally I just dump frozen stock into the pot, so maybe I should rethink that!!! We really didn't cook it much longer after that, to be honest. After about ten minutes at most, we added some half and half, and then it simmered for maybe another 15 while we finished the dinner for the rest of the family.

The soup went into the blender with a couple of sprigs of parsley. A few quick pulses emulsified everything and took care of the oil slick that had formed on the top of the pot, since I probably used too much olive oil. After that, you're good to go, unless you're me, in which care, it will also need a good straining. So glad those days are behind me, with more and more solid food on the horizon!

As pleased as I am to be off the restrictive liquid diet, this is one recipe that will still be welcome in my kitchen. Rich but light, earthy and creamy and a snap to make, this soup is a definite keeper!

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