11.17.2018

The Brown Issues

I know that I have ranted about cooking magazines before, but this rant is new and different.

It’s about the “brown issues.“ You know… the November issues when all the food is brown?

Brown turkey. Brown stuffing. Brown gravy. Brown pies. And, for a touch of color, beige potatoes.

Even the green foods turn brown when covered with crispy brown onion toppings.

I think there was one year when I didn’t open a single November issue; I just passed them onto a friend.

Hah! Some friend I am! I could, at least, have included a colorful issue.

Yet here I am today, slightly repentant, because I’m about to offer you brown food. Sometimes, you just need to eat brown food. Like this Creamy Mushroom and Chestnut Soup.

What a perfect opener for your Thanksgiving Feast, with thanks that it will be another 11 months before we see the brown issues again.

Happy Thanksgiving - may yours be colorful and bright.

~ David

Creamy Mushroom and Chestnut Soup
Inspired by a recipe from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things

1/2 cup dried porcini
1/2 cup Marsala
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways and finely sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 pound cooked and peeled chestnuts
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup light cream
4 thin slices from one button mushroom


Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small microwave-safe bowl and add the Marsala to cover. Heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the strength of your microwave. Set aside to allow mushrooms to soften.

Heat the oil and butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add leek, carrot, and celery; cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes until tender, but not browned. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes until softened. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the Marsala. Rinse the porcini to remove any sand and grit, then coarsely chop them and add them to the pot. Sauté them for a minute longer.

Stir in chestnuts and stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the reserved Marsala.

In batches, purée soup in a blender until very creamy. Pour into a clean pot. Bring back to a simmer and stir in the light cream. Ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with a slice of mushroom.

Serves 4.

32 comments:

  1. And I just posted a very brown pot roast. ;-) Some of the best tasting food isn't very pretty... it's a bane for media makers (including food bloggers like us) but as far as the palate is concerned, dishes like this one can be a delight.

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    1. I saw your pot roast with mushrooms and can't wait to try it! Brown food DOES taste so goo, but what a nightmare to make look beautiful. You managed perfectly, Frank!

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  2. What about red, that’s coming next. I love this soup and I have vacuum packed chestnuts.

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    1. Red is MUCH easier, Gerlinde - and I have no problem with that! :)

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  3. David, as you know, I just posted very well browned potatoes! This post was so funny because it's so true. But your brown soup sounds so good, it's worth going without other colors.

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    1. And they were lovely, Jean! We just can't avoid brown food, especially when it is so good!

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  4. Not celebrating Thanksgiving had never thought of 'seasonal brown' and am smiling ! Love your recipe but, at the moment, have to make it just a mushroom appetizer - Looking for vac-packed chestnuts on line I was offered both water chestnuts for Asian cooking and chestnut-coloured hair dye from any number of firms :) ! Not very helpful but someone may have imported . . .Talking of brown: absolutely love that brown and gilded dish of yours . . . Happy Thanksgiving from across the Pond . . .

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    1. Please don't eat the brown hair dye, Eha! :) Thanks fro your Thanksgiving wishes - I am ever grateful for my friends around the world - it make sit such a warm and loving pace to live!

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  5. Well those pretty red flowers on your table certainly brighten things up! The soups sounds very comforting, and I love those earthy flavors. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Earthy is the best description, Valentina! And we love our alstroemeria from trader Joe - always so bright and cheerful!

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  6. I've never thought of the brown food month either, but your right. This is one recipe I'll be passing on to my mother-in-law as she loves chestnuts. We can't do nuts of any kind in our place, but I’ll try it without the chestnuts and maybe add some lentils for body. A good looking and tasty sounding brown soup you have there.

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    1. Ron - Sorry about the nut allergy but you, like me, learn to get around those things with great ease! Cheers!

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    2. David, I did get around it. Made it for a lunch yesterday and substituted our Karljohan, a.k.a. porcini for the chestnuts. It made for a rich earthy and lovely lunch soup.

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    3. That sounds fantastic, Ron. Probably even better!

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  7. The soup sounds delicious but Mom always said a meal should have every color on the plate so a touch of red, green, orange, etc.. and then brown is ok.

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    1. My work around is that the napkins are orange, the plates (under the soup bowls) are red, and the view from our dining room is green! :) She is right, though - some color would do us all good now!

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  8. Definitely will make this one David and will let you know how it worked !!! Wonderful ingredients, wonderful brown !

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    1. Thanks, D! It is really so tasty - I hope you like it!

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  9. Ooh, Bizzy Lizzy! I follow her on Facebook and this looks like a wonderful recipe, despite the color! ;)

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    1. it is wonderful, Christina - and the brown is so gorgeous that I don’t care!

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  10. What a gorgeous table setting, David. Especially the dangling candles! I'd happily spoon into your brown soup beneath those! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Mark!

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    1. Thanks, John - Mark made that hanging candle piece one day using all sorts of stuff we had around from when we moved from Maine! It’s beauful our there at night!

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  11. I hope this delicious soup puts this brown food phobia to rest! GREG

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  12. Sometimes you just have to accept brown food is tasty! Although you have done a wonderful job making this soup look delicious.

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    1. Brown food IS always tasty... but so hard to photograph!

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  13. Oh no, I just ordered two kinds of chestnut paste--brown I presume. Glad you are relenting some, though I think all that brown is starting to bother me now...

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    1. Don't let it get to you too much, Inger - you will end up like me!

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    2. I did make key lime and whipped strawberry pies in addition to sweet potato and French Apple for Thanksgiving :)

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    3. Wonderful and colorful additions to the table!

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  14. This soup is very brown indeed, but it sure looks creamy and delicious to me, David!

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    1. As many have pointed out, Marcelle, brown food may not be photogenic, but it generally tastes really good!

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