Spring Beekeeping Workshop

Spring Beekeeping Workshop
Demonstration Hive

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cold, Wet Spring - Mmm..Soup!

I learned from noted chef, Deborah Madison, how to make a really rich Wild Mushroom Stock from her wonderful book, "The Greens Cook Book" (Bantam Books 1987). This is a useful stock when you want a really dense tasting mushroom soup that is better than average. Have you noticed that a lot of mushroom soup recipes end up tasting weak and in need of more flavor? That won't happen when you use Deborah Madison's stock recipe for a soup base.

This being Connecticut, and this being May, any weather can befall us. True to style for some years (it seems like it's every other year) we are having a typical, cold, wet spring. Days and days of endless cool temperatures of 50 degrees or less, cold nights in the 30's or 40's, grey skies, and rain, rain, and more rain - that's what we are having. Needless to say our hot weather annual vegetables - tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. are sitting in their pots inside a cosy (unheated but warmish) greenhouse waiting for some sun to kick them into gear.

However, all is not lost because we have tons and tons of lovely overwintered hardy vegetables. Some are real perennials, like lovage, and herbs such as sage, thyme and bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica). And many others act like perennials the way we grow them in covered cold frames or unheated greenhouses. So, except for the mushrooms, I had everything on hand for this lovely soup stock - with a couple of substitutions.

Here is the recipe, and again, credits are to Deborah Madison for the inspiration:

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (I like to leave the onion skins on if they're clean, it makes a nice dark broth)
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 medium carrots (from the cold frame), cleaned and chopped
2 celery stalks (I substituted the perennial lovage which is already big in my garden and tastes like celery)
1/2 cup leek greens (I mixed the leek greens with greens from oversized scallions)
4-6 thyme branches (outside kitchen door)
2 bay leaves (I used my own bayberry leaves which are similar to the tropical bay leaf and is a hardy native shrub here in the northeast)
6 branches of parsley (from the cold frame)
3 sage leaves (in the herb bed outside my kitchen)
2 cloves garlic, smashed (from last year's harvest)
1 teaspoon salt
9 cups cold water

Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup of hot water and set aside. Prepare all the other vegetables and herbs. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, add the vegetables and herbs and the salt. Cook over medium to high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Next add the soaking mushrooms with the liquid and the 9 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve.

You can use the stock just as it is at this point or you can return it to the pan and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid and intensify the flavors.

Then, use as the base for your favorite mushroom soup. Let me know how you like it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

See upcoming classes

CONTAINER GARDENING is coming up on Saturday, June 11, 2011 from 9:30am - 12:30pm and RAISED BED and INTENSIVE GARDENING on June 18, 2011, from 9:30am - 12:30pm.

For more information and registration visit www.connsoil.com.