Soup for a Winter’s Night

mushroom and onion soup veg close-upCrazy December. Crazy time of year to start writing here again. But it bothered me that 2015 would go by, and there would have been no entry made the whole length of the year.

I began a great new job a year and a half ago, but it changed everything, because it changed how much and when I work. Ah, time!

My husband, who works from home, cooked more. I cooked less. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I cooked less regularly, not the habit of it so much that I’d had. But I missed it…the cooking, and the habit of cooking, and the writing, too, which had been part of the process.

So in this crazy December, I decided to blog again. I thought, “Will I do this differently, now that I’ve been gone from it for a while?” But, no, I’ll do it the same. I like focusing on one ingredient three weeks in a row. The use and repetition of things grounds me, slows me down. It focuses me.

wine...mushroom and onion soupIt can be an ingredient as simple as wine. Used to deepen the flavor of a mushroom and onion soup, which is what I made the other night.

I steeped one ounce of dried porcini mushrooms with three cups of tea-kettle hot water to rehydrate them, and also to turn that water into a mushroom broth.

Into a dry pan over medium heat, I added thinly cut strips of sage from a few sprigs I had pulled from the garden recently and kept in a shot glass of water by the kitchen sink. It was a small handful’s worth, about a tablespoon if compressed.

As that began to cook and give off its piney outdoor scent, I tossed in, as I sliced them, eight ounces each of white button and cremini mushrooms, and four ounces of shiitake mushrooms (stalks removed and added to a bag of broccolini stems in the freezer…with the hope of actually making a vegetable stock from them at some future date!).

With the mushrooms all in the pan, I turned the heat up to medium-high, stirred them, and allowed them to cook and create their own juices while I sliced two red onions. I cut the onions in half, and then those halves into thin slices, and added to the mushrooms.

Didn’t want everything to steam, and did want some browning, so I turned the heat up to high. I also added some chopped parsley stems. Just to use them, since I had some fresh parsley I was going to use to garnish the top when all done.

The mushrooms and onions became beautifully limp and browned. I squeezed excess liquid from the now-rehydrated porcini, cut into thin slices and added to the pan.

Now that things were nicely cooked down, I seasoned with salt and pepper.

I lowered the heat some, and poured in a lovely half-cup of a dry and mellow merlot. As I stirred it through, it lifted off the dry bits from the bottom of the pan and seeped into the mushrooms and onions, deepening the color and flavor.

The whole thing, right at this point, would have been delicious  poured over a bowl of buttery fettuccine, but I had that porcini broth. About two cups remained, the rest having been absorbed into the porcini.

So I added that broth to the mushrooms and onions, along with another cup of water, brought it all to a boil, tasted for seasoning.

The porcini broth and wine were all the stock this soup needed. A very light, but deep flavor, along with the texture of several mushrooms…the smooth white and cremini, and the softer and spongier texture of porcini and shiitake.

mushroom and onion soup in bowl

A couple ladlefuls into a bowl, and a sprinkle of parsley on top.

A deep and quiet soup for a deep and quiet winter night.


Happy New Year.



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