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It’s November – that means soup night! November 10, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Illustrated, random stuff, soupe du semaine.

There are winter-ish things we sort of miss during the summer.


Braised meat.

Baked potatoes.

And soup night.

PhotobucketWe love soup night.  When the weather starts getting cold, there’s just something so warm and cozy about a nice bowl of homemade soup, with a hunk of fresh bread, isn’t there?

So now that pretty much every vegetable known to man is in season (hyperbole much?), Cook’s Illustrated published their recipe for Farmhouse Vegetable and Barley Soup.

PhotobucketI like vegetables, and I like barley.  I think we have a winner here!

Only . . . the first ingredient is 1/8 ounce of ground dried mushrooms.

We don’t really do fungus.

The fact that I have not one, but two different varieties of dried mushrooms in the cupboard is . . . an anomaly.  Yeah, that’s it.   It just sort of happened that way.

PhotobucketHere’s the thing.

You know about the whole umami thing, right?  It’s all sort of science-y, really, involving glutamates and nucleotides other chemical stuff.  It seems that mushrooms, along with soy sauce, tomato paste, and some other stuff, is just loaded with it.

It makes vegetable soup taste hearty- even meaty.  Savory.

PhotobucketOooh. . . . mommy.


We start by sauteeing a couple of diced carrots, some leeks and some celery in butter.  And we add a bit of white wine (1/3 cup), soy sauce (2 tsp.) and a couple of teaspoons of salt.

This all gets cooked until the celery is soft and the liquid has evaporated, maybe 10 or 15 minutes.

PhotobucketThen we added a bunch of water – 6 cups! – plus a quart of stock (either chicken or vegetable – I went with chicken), a half cup of pearl barley, 2 teaspoons of the ground mushrooms,  a clove of minced garlic, and a bunch of parsley, thyme, and a single bay leaf, all tied together.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let it cook about half an hour, then add some diced potatoes (a pound or two), a single turnip, diced, and about a quarter of a cabbage, sliced.

PhotobucketAt this point, we stopped and stashed the whole thing in the fridge until Peeps got home with his mom.

Honestly, we prefer soup that’s had a chance to set.

To rest.

Get happy.

You know what I mean, right?

PhotobucketThen, we reheat and simmer until the turnip, et al, are tender – if it’s on the stovetop it’ll be a half hour or so, once it’s hot – the better part of the day if you go the crock-pot route, which is what we did.

Just make sure your potatoes and turnips are soft – nobody wants crunchy turnips in their soup.

Now Cook’s recommends serving the soup with peas, lemon juice, and chopped parsley.

PhotobucketI didn’t bother with the peas, forgot the lemon juice, and stirred the parsley in before reheating.

And you know what?  It was still pretty good. I enjoyed it, and Peeps’s mom said she enjoyed it (though she may be been being polite).

Peeps had trouble getting past the turnip.  That’s cool.  We’re not all cut out for vegetable soup.

But I still like it.  A lot.



1. Kimberly - November 10, 2011

Mmmm, that sounds deliscious. I imagine the ground mushroom added a lot of flavor. I think I will try to make this over the weekend.

Hi, Kimberly. It really was a good soup, and you’re right, while you can’t really taste the actual mushrooms, they do add kind of a background flavor. I was very happy with it!

2. kayatthekeyboard - November 10, 2011

The best vegetable soup in the world: Get a 1-quart plastic container that will fit in your freezer, and every time you have a little dib of veggies left over, rake them in there. A little veggie strata. When it gets full, wait until you have some leftover beef. Shred or dice the beef. Saute an onion and some garlic. Add the beef and a bunch of stock. Add the frozen veggie strata block. Add whatever herbs and spices make you happy. Enjoy.

Kay, that does sound good. We used to do that with leftover meats – grilled chicken or steak or whatever – but it just never lived up to my expectations. Maybe starting with the veggies would work a little better.

3. judy - November 11, 2011

I am glad it is soup time when I read all about the good soups one can make. I love soup! Enjoy.

Me too, Jude! We’ve already loaded Peeps’s mom up with a bunch of different soups – quart containers that should be good for at least a couple of meals for her.

4. November’s Third Thursday « Dark Side of the Fridge - November 17, 2011

[…] Or, you know, when your mother-in-law is coming to town and you need something nice to go with vegetable soup. […]

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