Creamy Mushroom Vodka Soup

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It is cold outside, and hot soup is just the thing to warm your bones.  This riff on classic cream of mushroom soup is lower in calories and higher in protein, yet still offers the Vitamin D and calcium found in more traditional recipes. A splash of vodka at the finish adds an undefinable yet flavorful edge to this soup. If you’d prefer to omit the vodka, add an extra dash or two of black pepper instead.

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WIN_20141228_193835Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon ground mace (or 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)

1/2 cup finely ground pecans

3 cups good quality chicken stock

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced

8 ounces crimini mushrooms (“baby ‘bellas”), sliced

1 cup milk or cream

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1/4 cup vodka

pecan halves (for garnish)

WIN_20141228_193046Directions

Step 1) Melt butter in stockpot. Add flour and stir constantly over low-medium heat for several minutes to cook a blonde colored paste called a “roux.”

Step 2) Add ground pecans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then add mushrooms, salt, and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer gently for five minutes.

WIN_20141228_193824Step 3) Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2 – 3 minutes.  Gently whisk in milk and vodka.

Step 4) Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with pecan halves. Enjoy!

Spicy Pickled Mushrooms

picture799I love pickled mushrooms right out of the jar.  With just the right combination of garlic, peppery spice, and tangy salt, pickled mushrooms make a great lunchtime side dish or midnight snack.  They are also pretty darn fabulous as a Bloody Mary garnish, or so I’m told.  😉  These are super easy to prepare, keep well in the refrigerator, and make great gifts when preserved in jars.

A word of advice… mushrooms shrink a LOT when simmered in any liquid, as they are in this recipe.  I’m telling you, they shrink a LOT.  However many mushrooms you “think” you need when you’re staring at them at the market, well, you need twice that many.

 

 

 

picture792Ingredients (Makes 2 quarts or 4 pints)

3 pounds white button mushrooms

3 ¾ cups white vinegar

2 2/3 cups water

4 ½ tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns (1/4 teaspoon per pint jar, or ½ teaspoon per quart jar)

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pint jar, or 1 teaspoon per quart jar)

4 cloves garlic, halved (2 halves per pint jar, or 4 halves per quart jar)

Directions

Step 1) Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

picture793Step 2) Add mushrooms to pot and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Step 3) Divide peppercorns, cayenne pepper, and garlic between sterilized canning jars.

Step 4) Fill jars with mushrooms and cover with brine from pot, leaving ½ inch of headspace.  Be sure to poke through to the bottom of the jar a few times (a chopstick works well for this), to eliminate air bubbles.

Step 5) Cover jars with lids and bands.  Pickled mushrooms will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month “as is.”  Alternatively, if you process the jars in a boiling water bath as explained on the canning page, your pickled mushrooms will last for at least a year.

Step 6) For maximum flavor, allow the brine to work its magic inside of the jars for at least a week before enjoying your mushrooms.