Thursday, February 23, 2006

How a luscious mushroom tart turned into a humble mushroom soup

My regular readers must by now know that I love mushrooms. A lot. So imagine my joy when I spotted a delicious looking mushroom tart recipe over at 80 breakfast last weekend. I printed out the recipe, studied it a bit, tweaked it a bit, deciding to use a mixture of cottage cheese and blue cheese instead of ricotta. On a way back from work on Monday, I diligently stocked up on mushrooms, three types of cheese (cottage and blue cheese for the filling, Cheddar cheese for the pastry), and butter. Little did I know that the constant sneezing I took for innocent cold at the time would turn into a feverish flu. On Tuesday I could only muster up enough energy to pop into the kitchen every now and then to boil the kettle, make two slices of garlicky cheese bread for lunch, and mix an avocado with some cottage cheese for my TV dinner session of 3 food programmes.

This was a bad idea. It started all well enough with the MasterChef Goes Large programme, which I quite enjoy watching (especially the contestants who decide to 'experiment' with an unfamiliar novelty dish in the final round!?!?) , and it ended with another enjoyable episode of The Hairy Bikers cooking in various parts of Romania. However, between the two programmes I saw Dr Gillian McKeith doing her miracles on another oversized victim. This was the end of my mushroom tart plan. Even though I admire her mission - and results, she somewhat terrifies me with her stern glare and strict dieting and exercise (sorry, lifestyle) regime.

Suddenly I got scared about the effects a triple-cheesed mushroom quiche will have on me before the quickly approaching beach season and on my health in general. Just thinking about the tart made me see my arteries clogging and cholesterol-levels rocketing. I quickly put the tart recipe aside (sorry, Joey) and reached for WeightWatchers' pure points 2 cookbook hidden in the far corner of my bookshelf. The book fits rather uneasily between the inspiring and mouthwatering tomes of Nigella, Nigel, Tessa, Claudia, Jamie and others, but I had picked it up at the local supermarket few years ago because it cost next to nothing, and now I badly needed it.

Flipping through pages and pages of various 0-point soups and stews, I decided to make a mushroom and thyme soup. I had all the ingredients on hand, and I prepared this soup to try to nurture myself back into life over the course of Wednesday (un-weightwatching it first).

Mushroom and thyme soup
Adapted from pure points 2 by Becky Johnson for WeightWatchers

olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
250 grams fresh field mushrooms, sliced
a small glass of white wine
2 Tbsp of lemon thyme leaves
500 ml Marigold vegetable stock
black pepper

Heat the oil in a large (non-stick) saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and fry gently on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until onion has softened.
Increase the heat and add the mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking.
Add the wine and cook for few minutes, until the alcohol has evaporated.
Reduce the heat, add the thyme and vegetable stock. Season with salt & pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
Pureé with a hand-held blender or in a food processor.
Serve garnished with extra thyme leaves.

The soup was actually very nice and easy, with a strong earthy mushroom flavour. If you like, you can add some blue cheese to the soup for extra flavour, or a dollop of cream to make it smoother. Still being aware that Dr Gillian McKeith is watching (she is Scottish, so she might just lurk around the corner), I did none of that of course. Because you can never know...


Anna said...

Hope you are feeling better... You should definitely come over for a visit - I have three different kinds of mushrooms in my fridge from trips to Chinatown (they won't of course compare to wild mushrooms back at home), and I should use them up ASAP. What a delightful problem!

Stephanie said...

Eck, et tu, eh? Am suffering from the flu right now and like you do not even have the energy to cook. Mickey D delivery might be the next cheap option. I am so afraid ...

Hope you are better now.

Antti said...

LOL, I also stumbled upon Joey's mushroom tart recipe, left a drool-dripping comment, then noticed yours, and started wondering whether there are any food blogs left without your footprints :P

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, that's so funny! I hate Dr. Gillian myself, she always makes me feel so unhealthy! And while the people she profiles certainly could use some dietary coaching, I hate that she's so nazi about everything. Her regimes are more like exercises in torture rather than sustainable healthy eating! Anyhow, I hope you do try out that tart one day, maybe after beach season? ;)

Journal Actif said...

You made me curious about this Dr. Gillian. I have people coming to install a satellite dish this week-end and I will be able to see european programs. I will check this one out. "Soup Nazi", it reminded me that famous line from Seinfeld.
Now I have to also check that mushroom tart... Thank you Pille (and read a sarcastic tone here since I certainly could do without more calories). ;-))

T. Carter said...

And thank you for tonight's dinner; that was quite yummy ...

jasmine said...

Oh dear. I hope you are feeling better.

I think I caught the Dr. Gillian show this week...I want to say it was on WTN (for those in Canada)...her disapproving glares were very effective...


Vivilicious said...

Oooh, Gillian McKeith scares me, too.. But your mushroom soup looks lovely. Healthy and tasty, you must be feeling so virtuous! And hope you are feeling better by now...

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille! Hope you are feeling better!

Oh dear, on that the list of unhealthy food I eat that mushroom tart isn't even a real contender...uh-oh...I may be in trouble, heehee :) Thanks for sharing that nice soup recipe...beach season is coming up here even faster...not to mention my beach wedding! Must save recipes like these :)

Journal Actif said...

Thank You Jasmine, the Dish people didn't come because of the ice storm we had lately. I'll check WTN.
I think I need those disapproving glares (laugh!)

Pille said...

Anna - three kinds of mushrooms and you're looking for ideas? If only all the problems we face would be as delightful:)

MM - thanks! Read about your cold - hope it didn't drive you to dine at McD at the end..

Antti:) I do try to visit most of the blogs listed on my blogroll daily, and Joey (and hence her mushroom tart) are included. Alas. But there are thousands of foodblogs out there still untrodden by me, so off you go and look for them:)

Melissa - I know! And I don't actually think she'd approve of my mushroom soup - no bright green and red vegetables in sight..

Zoubida - hope the satellite dish people get their job done soon, and you can start receiving Dr Gillian's advice in the comfort of your living room. But maybe not then - I'd hate you to stop writing about all those yummy sweet dishes on your blog!

T. Carter - I'm glad that you, Evelin & Celeste were well fed that night!

Jasmine - yep, those glares! I tried to copy-paste her face onto my banner, but luckily my PhotoShop skills failed me. Otherwise nobody would have read my post, but would have run to the kitchen to cut up some organic carrot sticks and juice some watercress and beetroot..

Vivilicious - am definitely feeling better now, thank you. And mushroom soup was nurturing and warming, if not nutricious and virtuous:)

Joey - well, I will make the mushroom tart eventually. I have no beach wedding of my own in sight, so don't have to worry about it so much. On the other hand, I am going to attend a beach wedding on Santorini this June, so maybe I'll wait just until after that:)