Life is surprising. Surprising in ways that are lovely and in ways that are tragic. Disappointing. Unexpected. Hateful. Wonderful. But it doesn’t stop for anyone, despite the circumstance.
That’s a lesson I’ve learned over the past few weeks. It’s not really a good lesson, but it’s also not a bad one. It just, is.
I guess that’s where I’ve been. Reality check. A bit humbled, a bit jaded. Depending on who you ask. But, okay. Pretty much the same, but also completely different.
So I made chowder. Which seems, you know, odd for a blog that prizes itself on all things sugar. But I think I
wanted needed a bit of a change.
And, I like mushrooms. They’re wonderfully misshapen and remind me of all those slightly creepy anthropomorphic books I read as a child, like Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. That’s not the reason I bought them, of course. But spring’s coming fast, and I’ve been known to window-shop along Whole Foods aisles for hours. Fingers tracing along bottles of Italian and French oils and eyes flitting from one bulk bin of red quinoa to another.
I’ve always been kind of strange in the things I find comforting. Noosh could tell you.
So I bought mushrooms. Black truffle oil too, but indulgences are nice from time to time.
Mostly, though, I’ve been seizing every opportunity to use this really lovely, burnt orange, 14-quart stockpot mum bought me a few months ago. It matches the KitchenAid. And is basically the best thing to have happened to me since my undergraduate acceptance four years ago.
I guess I still haven’t explained why the mushroom chowder. Besides the obvious fact that I like mushrooms and chowders and one-pot dinners that simmer themselves into something glorious while I get to sit back and play Portal for 30 minutes.
But days have been too short and too complicated and too cold. Mushroom chowder seemed appropriate. Earthy, warm, simple. Grounding. A nice change from sugar and quandary.
We shall by morning
inherit the earth
So, am I moving towards a more integrated food blog? Maybe. It does feel like the first step towards a culinary civil rights movement, which is kind of empowering. And now it would be kind of weird to skim through dessert recipes with this totally random mushroom dish thrown in.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nothing is certain.
So I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing. Baking, cooking, eating, writing. We’ll see what happens.
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried oyster mushrooms
- 1 pound bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- heaping tsp salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup dry white wine, if desired
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup cream
- bunch of fresh thyme, or 1 heaping tsp dried thyme
- freshly ground black pepper
- few tsps black truffle oil
Place the dried oyster mushrooms in the bowl of warm water and let sit for 30 mins. Once mushrooms are reconstituted, remove them with a slotted spoon, coarsely chop, and set aside. Reserve the soaking liquid.
Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium flame. Add garlic and fry for about 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and cook until translucent, 3-4 mins. Add (all of) the mushrooms, white wine (if using), and salt, and cook for another 3-4 mins. Stir continuously to ensure the mushrooms cook evenly. Pour in the reserved soaking liquid and the stock and increase the heat. Once the soup reaches a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 mins.
Working in batches, transfer soup to the blender and carefully puree until smooth (see notes). Return the pureed soup to the pot, add the cream and thyme, and stir. Season with black pepper and more salt, if necessary. Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with black truffle oil. Serve with crusty bread or herbed crackers, if desired.
- When pureeing hot soup, firmly hold down the lid of the blender. Otherwise, pressure will cause the lid to pop off and hot soup will splatter everywhere.
- If you like your chowder a little chunkier (as I do), only puree 3/4 of it, allowing the remaining mushrooms to give you a bit of a bite as you eat.
- I like to garnish with mushroom chips or roasted hazelnuts as well, both of which add texture and a buttery, earthy nuttiness.
- You really do need the black truffle oil.
- I am not kidding. It will change your entire culinary experience (and life).