I have a confession to make: I love soup. It makes winter more bearable, and I can’t wait for warmer weather when I can start making cold soups. I’m not sure how it was that I missed the first section of the book on soups, but here I am with Julia on my mind and a belly full of soup. Yesterday I rededicated myself to the project and cranked out two wonderful soups. I’ve made potato and leek soup, but this Potage Parmentier just seemed beyond my imagination. The other soup, Potage Velouté aux Champignons is out of this world. It reminded me of cream of mushroom soup that my mom made for me growing up. I never thought that French cooking had made it to Poland, but after a little bit of a history lesson and the significant use of fat in both cuisines, I’m not surprised. And if you’re looking for a way to make your house smell wonderful, these soups are a great way to do it.
I do have a few notes on the soups. I’m not sure what sort of torture it is to press an entire pot of soup with a fork instead of using a blender or food processor, but I don’t own a vegetable mill and I don’t care if my soup is blended. I poured half of the potato and leek soup into a blender and thought that it would leave me with enough texture while not liquifying it. If you do own a vegetable mill or want to see what pressing the soup with a fork does, be my guest. I amended the step and don’t think that I lost out on the texture. I did halve the original recipe for the potato soup because I couldn’t imagine eating that much initially. As for the cream of mushroom soup- it may drive you a little insane when you realize how many pots and bowls you need. The extra step of straining the mushroom stems and broth may seem bulky and unnecessary, but I think it infuses the broth with a lot of mushroom flavor. This was one of those moments where I questioned the method, but am very glad to have followed the steps. Don’t worry if your vegetable stock is low or no sodium- you can correct the seasoning at the end of the cooking process. And I did use plain white button mushrooms for the soup, despite their reputation as being sort of bland. And I forgot to skim the soup. I liked the extra bit of “fattiness” on top of the soup and would just stir it in. There isn’t a lot of fat in a vegan soup to begin with- I’m not sure that we need to be skimming them. If you want to avoid it, skim away! Besides, the Earth Balance is added at the end again anyway, so it seems like an uphill battle.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of either soup. I blame this on an extremely empty stomach, a wonderfully smelling kitchen, and refusal to delay that eating that first spoonful.
Serves 3-4 people
- 2 cups peeled potatoes, sliced or diced
- 1.5 cups thinly sliced leeks, including the tender green
- 2 quarts water
- 1 Tb salt
- 2 Tb Silk creamer
- 1 Tb Earth Balance
- 2-3 Tb minced chives or parsley
Simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Allow the soup to cool slightly before you pour half into a blender or food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Mash the remainder of the soup with a fork to break up the vegetables. Pour the blended soup back into the pot and stir the soup. Correct seasoning. Stir in the creamer and earth balance and bring to a simmer before serving. Serve decorated with the herbs.
Potage Velouté aux Champignons
Serves 6-8 people
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 3 Tb Earth Balance
- 3 TB flour
- 6 cups boiling vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped stems from 1lb fresh mushrooms
- 2 Tb Earth Balance
- Thinly sliced caps from 1lb fresh mushrooms
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tb nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp cornstarch
- 1 cup Silk creamer
- 1 to 3 Tb softened butter
Cook the onions slowly in the 3Tb butter for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are tender but not browned. Add the flour and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes without browning. Turn off the heat. Bet in the boiling vegetable stock and blend it thoroughly with the flour. Season to taste. Stir in the mushroom stems and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or more. Strain the soup, pressing the juices out of the mushroom stems. Return the soup to the pan.
Melt the 2Tb butter in a separate saucepan. Toss in the mushrooms, salt, and lemon juice. Cover and cook slowly for 5 minutes. Pour the mushrooms and their cooking juices into the strained soup base. Simmer for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the nutritional yeast, cornstarch, and non-dairy creamer well. Slowly add to the simmering soup, stirring well. Add the additional butter and correct seasoning.
Serve with optional mushrooms as a decoration and minced herbs (parsley or chervil).