Soup Bowl, just before completion

Good morning and Happy New Year, everyone!

Remember last week when we learned how to make stock? Today, in honor of the bowl games, we’ll be having a bowl of our own. We’re going to take the stock and make soup with it — creamy mushroom soup, in fact. For you Julia Child fans, the recipe will be quite familiar, as it’s essentially the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking with a few variations thrown in at whim. This recipe is designed to serve six, so bear that in mind when creating it for smaller or larger audiences. You can start this during the pregame show, check on it during commercial breaks, and serve it up at halftime.

You will need:

Ingredients: Six cups of stock, at least four ounces (one stick or eight tablespoons) of butter, a pound of mushrooms, 1/4 cup of diced onion, three to five tablespoons of flour, a few sprigs of parsley, part of a bay leaf, a pinch or two of thyme, a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt to taste, one pint of heavy cream, and the yolks from two eggs. It will help you a lot to have this all measured and set out before you start cooking.

Tools: Two three-quart or larger kettles or pots, a soup strainer, a small saucepan or frying pan, a knife and cutting board, a soup ladle.

At the start of the pregame show, take the stock (about three ice cube tray’s worth) and set it to boiling. While you wait for it to boil, take the mushrooms and separate the stems from the caps; next, mince the stems almost to a pulp, but merely slice the caps into thin cross-sections. When you’re done with that, chop up the parsley and set it aside; then melt three to five tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and then add in the diced onion. Sauté for about ten minutes or until the onions are translucent but not yet brown, then toss in about three to five tablespoons of flour. Stir while cooking until the flour is well incorporated into the mix, then cook for about three minutes more after that (this is done to eliminate the “floury” taste from what is going to be a thickening agent as well as a flavoring).

By the time you’ve finished cooking what many of you have already recognized as a sort of oniony roux, the stock should be boiling. Turn down the heat, put the roux into the stock and stir until well incorporated. Add in the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, pinch of salt (though if you’re using regular American butter you can omit the salt) and whatever other seasonings you think you’d like in there, and toss in the mushroom stems. Stir well, partially cover and leave it alone on a low heat to simmer for at least twenty minutes (longer if you can manage it — mushroom stems are tough buggers and need a bit of time to be persuaded to surrender their flavors to the soup). This should take you to the end of the first quarter.

During the first-quarter break (or the commercial break immediately after that, if it’s a fast-moving game), strain out the mushroom stems, onions, bay leaf and other solids by pouring the liquid from the one pot to the other; press the collected mushroom and onion bits to retrieve every last drop of juice from them, toss the juice back into the soup, and toss the drained solids into the compost pile. (In the pictured example above, I’ve decided to skip this step and leave in the solids, just for grins.)

Now, per Julia, you should be doing the following step immediately after the last one; but, since we’re timing this to be done at halftime, we can delay it a little bit until about midway to three-quarters of the way through the second quarter. Take the sliced mushroom caps, sauté with two tablespoons butter and the lemon juice for about five minutes, then pour mushrooms, butter and all into the waiting soup and let simmer together for ten minutes. At the last commercial break before halftime, mix the two egg yolks in with the cream, then add hot soup in, a spoonful at a time well stirred, until you have a cup of soupy, eggy, creamy liquid; then turn down the heat so that the soup is almost but not quite simmering, add in the cream-egg mix, and cook for two minutes, being careful not to let the soup simmer.

Turn off the heat, dish up and enjoy the Soup Bowl as a halftime highlight! Bon appetit!