Lately it seems that the kids have a pact to make sure that one or the other or all three is in a strop and possibly screaming. I chalk it up to hormones burgeoning and school work taking its toll, but that knowledge doesn’t change the misery. Despite their clamouring to be alone, and firm declarations of loathing for the others, the three of them seem to purposely seek each other out with the sole intention of torturing themselves, and in the process, their parents. The Author and I have tried all sorts of tactics, but the one that works best is –– oh wait, nothing works best.
Fortunately, the autumn half-term is coming up with a little break for us all. Perhaps the gentle rhythm of days with no pressing agenda will help to re-set all our attitudes. In the meantime, I find myself saying over and over, “Just let him/her be!” It’s my mantra for a peaceful existence, and at some point, it may work.
Let’s hope it’s soon.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
On a brighter note, one thing that definitely benefits from being left alone is this soup. I was going to give a recipe for a vegan and a non-vegan version, but after thinking about it, I realised that the vegan version is fantastic and is missing nothing. Sure, you could swap out the oil for butter, and you could use chicken stock instead of water, but I’m not sure you would gain much in the finished product. The porcini add a rich, deep mushroomy note which really carries this soup, and the overall flavour is light and earthy, if that makes any sense at all.
- 20g dried porcini mushrooms
- 300g (2 medium) onions, diced
- 150g (2 medium) carrots, diced
- 150g (2 stalks/ribs) celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 60ml (just under 2 oz.) olive oil
- 500g (1 lb) mushrooms, sliced
- 70 ml (2 oz.) sherry
- 20 (1 TB) ml tamari
- 1400ml (45 oz.) stock or water
- 40g (a good handful) parsley, chopped (optional)
Put the porcini mushrooms in a heat-proof container and just barely cover them with boiling water. Leave them to soak while you get on with chopping up the onion, carrot and celery into tiny dice. Take your time with this: the smaller the dice, the more flavour you can extract from the initial sauté.
Over medium heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper. (Note: adding the salt at this stage brings the water out of the vegetables and helps to keep them from burning.) Stirring occasionally, cook the mirepoix until the vegetables are softened and reduced by about half.
Stir in the sliced mushrooms and let them cook a little bit and take on some colour. Then add the sherry; scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon, to get up any browned bits — these are total flavour bombs!
Stir in the tamari and the stock (or water), and bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for about a half hour. Take about 1/3 of the soup out of the pot and puree it in a food processor or with an immersion blender. When it is smooth, add it back to the rest of the unpuréed soup, stir well and then taste to adjust the seasoning. (If the soup seems a bit oily to you, don’t worry – that adds body and flavour, as I mentioned here. Just make sure you scoop the oil up into the part that you blend, and it will be fantastic!)
Add the parsley if you’re using it. This soup is fantastic with a crusty baguette and a salad of bitter greens. But not bitter children.