Most cooks have persuaded their loved ones they can be nourished without being served a roast with potatoes and two side dishes every night.
It has meant kitchen liberation.
We’ve all learned that as time and calories become more precious, one great dish is just as welcome, just as desirable as a full spread. And during the worst of winter, soup is the obvious choice.
I love a rich, chock-full-ofmushrooms soup and have been experimenting with ingredient combinations.
Shiitake mushrooms, which have a deep, meaty flavor, work well in soup.
The portobello, a large-capped crimini mushroom, is also excellent. It has a great chewy texture.
Years ago I would have smothered the mushrooms with a broth of cream and butter. Now I prefer to let the flavor of the mushrooms mingle with other vegetables and not mask it with a lot of fat.
In the following recipe, mushrooms, carrots and shallots combine with wild rice to make a delicate-tasting soup that is very filling. Chicken broth is the base, and a dash of sherry sweetens the pot.
While the soup simmers, toss together ingredients for a salad and warm a loaf of bread in the oven. It’s fast and it’s nurturing.
Wild Rice And Shiitake Mushroom Soup
1/3 cup wild rice
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped shiitake mushrooms (see note)
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups hot chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash ground allspice
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Place wild rice in colander and rinse under cold water. Place in small pan with 2 cups cold water. Bring to boil.
Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice is almost tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in medium pan. Add carrots, shallot and mushrooms and saute 5 minutes. Stir in flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a paste. Stir in hot broth. Stir constantly until mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in partially cooked wild rice (there should be about 1 cup). Season to taste with salt, pepper and allspice.
Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in sherry and serve.
Yield: 2 servings.
Note: Shiitake mushrooms are available at specialty grocers and the produce department of most larger supermarkets.
MEMO: Bev Bennett is food editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and author of four cookbooks.