Monday, January 31, 2022

Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

We are eating a lot of soup this year. I have my tried and true favorites that are regulars in the rotation, like butternut curry soup, shrimp and corn chowder, creamy white chicken chili, lasagna soup, sweet potato and sausage soup, and miso meatball and noodle soup, but I also like to try new ones.

As someone who loves wild rice and mushrooms, I was sure that this would be a winning recipe. And I was right!

Chock full of two different kinds of mushrooms, as well as carrots, celery and onion, this soup is sure to warm you up on a chilly night and surprise you with its deliciousness.

It's also meatless! So if you try to eat at least one meal a week that doesn't have meat, this would fit the bill perfectly. And it's so hearty that no one will miss the traditional chicken in wild rice soup.

Because wild rice needs a long time to cook to fully open up, this soup is not a 30 minute meal. But it will be worth the wait, I promise. There's not more than 30 minutes worth of "work," but there's the simmering time.

I think this soup could be adapted quite easily for the crock pot, so if you try that, let me know how it goes!

Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

5 tsp. olive oil, divided
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced
4 tsp. salt, divided
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large white onion, diced
4 celery stalks, ends trimmed, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup wild rice 
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 cups beef broth
1 cup half and half
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot with a lid, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium heat.

Add baby bella mushrooms and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to coat and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have released their natural moisture, it has evaporated and mushrooms are browned. Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside. Repeat the browning process with another 2 teaspoons of olive oil, button mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt. Remove from pot and set aside. 

Add the final teaspoon of oil to the pot, along with the salted butter. Add onion, celery, carrot, and final teaspoon salt, stirring to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. If necessary, add a splash of stock to deglaze the pot and get the browned bits off the bottom. Stir in garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Add wild rice. Then, stir in thyme, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in beef stock and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer 40-60 minutes, or until rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. Stir in half and half and reserved mushrooms. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve.

For a thicker soup, make a cornstarch/water slurry and and thicken before serving. 

Recipe Source: Adapted from Kemp's

Monday, January 24, 2022

Focaccia Bread with Onions, Bacon and Smoked Gruyere

I have a few more soup recipes coming your way this winter, but first, we need some bread to go with all that soup. I especially like making focaccia bread. This is really easy if you have a bread machine that can process the dough for you. 

Focaccia is great because you can customize it to what you like, and what you have on hand. For this version, I was trying to use up some of the vast amounts of Christmas cheese... we had this wonderful smoked gruyere and I knew it would be a great topping. (I also have a previous recipe here for an herbed version and a Greek version...)

Here's a few steps to show you after your dough is processed and has risen. Spread it out into a pan (you can use a 9x13 for thicker bread - especially good if you're going to use it for sandwiches, or a "bar" pan - this one is 10x15 for a little thinner bread) then make the indents with your finger. 

Do a brief second rise, (I use my oven on bread proof setting for this) and then re-do the indents and brush with olive oil. 

Next add the toppings. For focaccia, there's really no such thing as too much topping. You want to have quite a bit to add flavor to the bread. So for this, I sauteed red onions and then added finely chopped bacon and then the cheese.

Here's the bread after it's baked.

Look at that those beautiful toppings!

This is great with soups or salad, or as a base for sandwiches. Enjoy!

Focaccia Bread with Onions, Bacon and Smoked Gruyere

3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup shredded smoked Gruyere
3 slices bacon, diced
olive oil, for brushing

coarse salt 

Combine the first six ingredients in a bread machine pan in the order recommended by your bread-maker manufacturer. Set the machine for the dough setting and turn on. 

When the dough is processed, remove from the bread pan with lightly oiled hands. Press into a greased 9x13 pan or 10x15 pan and make indentations with your finger, about every inch. Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. (If your oven has a "bread proofing" setting, that is perfect.)

For the topping, saute the bacon over medium heat until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon. If you want, you can chop it even more finely after it cools. In the same skillet, saute the onion over medium heat in the bacon grease for 8-10 minutes or until it is slightly carmelized.

After the bread has risen, remove the towel, then re-do the indentations, since they will have disappeared a bit . Brush the dough lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with some coarse salt, then place the cooked onion over the dough. Sprinkle on the bacon, then the cheese.

Bake the bread at 400 for 20 minutes or until done.


Monday, January 10, 2022

Bean and Butternut Soup with Bacon {Crock pot}

This may seem like a good autumn soup, and it is, but it's also a good winter soup. Butternut squash are still widely available in the grocery, and baby, it's cold outside, so it's a good time to make soup. (0 degrees actual temperature here as I write this.)

This soup cooks by itself all day in the crock pot. When you come home after a long day of work, errand running, kid transporting, or what have you, all you need to do is fry up the bacon and blend the soup and a comforting, delicious, and healthy dinner is ready. 

You could definitely add some crusty bread and a big green salad for a well rounded meal. The leftovers of this soup are also delicious; I ate it for lunch for a couple days after serving it for supper. 
And it's chock full of great veggies.  If you're into sneaking in veggies for your kids' sake (ahem, I speak from experience) then this soup will do that perfectly. 

I do recommend, as the recipe states, that you soak the beans overnight. This is not a difficult step, you just have to remember to do it before you go to bed! 

But when you remember, and then make this soup, you will be rewarded by how good this is after minimal effort. 

Yay, the crock pot, one of my favorite appliance robots.

Bean and Butternut Soup with Bacon

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 12 oz. bag frozed riced cauliflower
12 to 16 oz. cubed butternut squash (frozen or fresh)
1 white onion, diced
10 cups water
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
6 slices thick cut bacon

Soak the beans in a large bowl, covered with water, overnight. 

The next day, drain the beans, and add them to the crock pot along with the garlic, cauliflower, squash, onion, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, liquid smoke, soy sauce and cayenne. Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours, or on low for 12 hours.
Just before serving, dice up the bacon and fry until crisp. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to your desired consistency. Keep out a little bacon for garnish, and add the rest to the soup.  Serves 6 to 8. 
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