Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Fancy

Growing up in South Louisiana I never knew a true Fall Season. Of course I knew about Fall as I had learned in school. I knew that it came after summer and it was around the time of Halloween and that the leaves were "supposed" to turn colors and fall off of the trees. It wasn't until I moved to DC that I would be fortunate enough to learn the true meaning of Fall and experience those colored leaves I had always read about. My eyes had never laid eyes on such a variety of foliage. In Louisiana, leaves are one of two colors - green and brown. I have lived in DC for three years now and every Fall it is the colors of the leaves that amaze me most. I had seen it in movies and read about it in books, but until you see with your own two eyes you can't imagine the vibrancy. I will never grow tired of spotting that first tree filled with fire engine red leaves and its nearby neighbor filled with amber leaves. I am not a big nature person - shoot, I am not even a big outdoor person; but fall in DC blows my mind. It is gorgeous. During Fall it is so exciting to drive down the street and see the vividly colored leaves fly off of the trees in mass quantities onto your windshield with every gust of wind. That is what it is like right now in DC - full out Fall.

And just like every other beautiful or exciting experience I have had in life, I want to share it with others. Every other time of year when I miss my family I want to travel home to my beloved New Orleans to be with them. But during Fall I find myself longing for my loved ones to be here with me to share in the amazing experience of the season. Right now I wish that I had my parents and my brothers and sister and their children here in town to see what I see everyday. And after they took in all they could of the surrounding landscape I would serve them each a bowl of this flawless Fall soup to help take the chill out of their day.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
Adapted from Sunset October 2007

Yield: Makes 8 servings

  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 ounce dried oyster mushrooms
  • 5 tablespoons butter at room temperature, divided
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved, rinsed, and white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Put wild rice, salt, and 8 cups cold water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, put dried oyster mushrooms in a small bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Let sit until soft, about 15 minutes.

3. In a large pot, cook 1 tbsp. butter and pancetta over medium-high heat until the meat renders some of its fat and turns a lighter pink. Add button mushrooms and leek.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms give off their liquid, about 10 minutes. Season the mushrooms and leeks with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Meanwhile, lift oyster mushrooms from liquid with a slotted spoon (reserving liquid), chop finely, and add to pot.

5. Sprinkle vegetables and pancetta with flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour starts to stick to the bottom of the pot (scrape it up as much as possible while stirring). Add wine, reserved liquid from soaking oysters (pouring slowly so as to leave any grit behind), and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, combine remaining 4 tbsp. butter, the parsley, and pepper. Set aside. Wrap in cling wrap an form into a small log and refrigerate until soup is ready to be served.

7. Add reserved wild rice to vegetable mixture and cook 10 minutes.

Stir in cream and cook until hot, about 1 minute.

Divide soup among 8 bowls and serve hot, with a dollop of parsley butter on each serving.


Anonymous said...

Yum! I wish we could be there.

Your Sister,


Angelica said...

This looks delicious!

Kerstin said...

What a fantastic soup! I'm a big fan of mushroom soup but haven't tried making it at home yet, that will have to change!

teresa said...

this looks so comforting and delicious! love it!