Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mushroomy Goodness!

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So when I saw this recipe for Creamy Portobello Soup I thought, "Great - we'll try a vegetarian dish this week!" Then I kept reading and saw the ham steak in the ingredients list and immediately switched to, "Awesome! A tasty vegetarian soup WITH HAM! What could be better?"

Ok, so we do eat vegetarian dishes quite often around here, but make no mistake - I live in a house full of meat lovers (including myself!) and ham is definitely a favorite. I'm sure you could vegetarian-ize this recipe if you really want to, but the ham steak adds such an incredible depth of meaty flavor to the portobellos I couldn't resist it...and neither could my father-in-law and husband...both of whom went back for seconds!

Creamy Portobello Soup

- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 8 oz. ham steak
- 4 leeks (white and light green parts only - thinly sliced)
- salt and pepper
- 2 large portobello mushroom caps (stemmed and chopped)
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 3 tbsp. dry sherry or madeira wine (this can be optional)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup half-and-half


1. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, cooking until just lightly browned. Add the ham and cook until slightly browned - about 3-4 minutes. Once browned, remove the ham with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Good luck trying to keep your husband's fingers out of the ham...this is a very important step because you need this ham later, so guard the ham! Once the ham is removed and set aside, add 1/2 tbsp. butter, 1 cup of the chopped leeks (be sure to wash them thoroughly in cold water. Leeks are grown in sand and you want zero grit in your soup!) and salt/pepper to taste. Cook for about 4 minutes, then add to the ham you've set aside.

3. Add the remaining butter, leeks, 1/2 tsp. salt and a generous sprinkle of pepper to the pot. Cook until the leeks are just wilted (about 3 minutes), then add the chopped portobellos and cook for another 3 minutes.

4. Next, add in the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes until thickened. Add the sherry and scrape up any browned bits in the pot, stirring until the wine is evaporated. Then add the broth and 2 cups of water, covering to bring to a boil.

5. Ok, don't be alarmed that the mixture pretty much looks like something you made in the mud outside when you were a kid playing "restaurant" with your best friend...oh wait, was that just me? Nevermind! The mixture doesn't look very pretty, but trust me - it tastes incredible! So the next step is once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer it uncovered for about 9 minutes (until the shrooms are tender), then puree the soup using an immersion blender or do it in batches in a blender until it is nice and smooth.

6. Once the soup is nice and smooth, whisk in the half-and-half and bring to just a boil. Stir in about three-quarters of the ham/leek mixture you've previously set aside and forbidden your husband to keep picking at, add salt and pepper to taste and I added just a sprinkle of sage to add another pinch of flavor.

7. Serve topped with the remaining ham and leeks. I served it with a fresh tomato basil bruschetta...we basically use soup as an excuse to inhale way too much delicious bruschetta in this house! To be fair, the soup was delicious too - hearty but not overwhelmingly heavy with a fantastic mushroom flavor.

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