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Cyrus O’Leary’s shares recipe for cream of mushroom soup

Wed., Dec. 17, 2008

We have a couple of restaurant requests this week.

First up, Ron Roper of Spokane called about the mushroom soup he’d enjoyed recently at Cyrus O’Leary’s. Could we get the recipe?, he wondered.

O’Leary’s owner, Erikki Oranen, was happy to oblige.

The restaurant uses a combination of sautéed and fresh mushrooms to bring pronounced mushroom flavor and a pleasing texture to the soup. Re-creating it at home turned out to be fairly easy, once I cut down the original recipe. I certainly wasn’t going to eat three gallons of soup.

Turns out the biggest challenge was handling one ingredient: beef base.

The restaurant uses a beef base, which is a concentrated stock, to bring flavor the soup. The only beef base I could find at the grocery store, called Better Than Bouillon, was pretty salty.

If you can’t find a good, low-sodium beef base, Oranen suggested eliminating it and using a quality, low-sodium beef stock in lieu of water.

Cyrus O’Leary’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 sticks margarine

3/4 pounds sliced mushrooms, divided

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons beef base (see note)

3/4 teaspoons garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoons celery salt

1/4 cup chopped green onions

2 tablespoons sherry

6 cups water

1/4 pound flour (1 scant cup)

1 cup whipping cream

Over medium heat, melt 1 stick margarine. Add 1/2 pound of the mushrooms, onion, celery, beef base, garlic powder, pepper and celery salt. Cook until mushrooms give up their juices, about five minutes.

Add green onions and sherry and cook briefly. Add water and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.

Over medium heat, melt second stick of margarine. Slowly whisk in flour to form a roux. Cook the roux for at least five minutes. Slowly add to the soup, whisking well to eliminate any lumps. Simmer until thickened.

Add whipping cream and remaining sliced mushrooms and heat through.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Note: If you cannot find beef base, eliminate it and the water, and instead use six cups of quality, low-sodium beef stock.

A recipe lost

Leslie Hanisch of Spokane wanted to help out her mother, Annabelle Heidecker.

Seems Heidecker lost a recipe. “And if you knew my mother,” Hanisch said, “and you knew how organized she is … well, she’s just devastated that she can’t find it.”

“It” is the recipe for a broccoli salad made by the Something Else Deli in Spokane. Heidecker clipped it from The Spokesman-Review a few years ago.

Over Thanksgiving, Heidecker lamented the recipe’s loss. So Hanisch called the deli, but was told they’d never shared that recipe with the newspaper.

They hadn’t. But in 1998, the paper published a knock-off. This version was developed by Merri Lou Dobler, a registered dietitian in Spokane who used to write this column.

“The secret is in the dressing, which (deli owner Theresa) Curran hints is honey mustard,” Dobler wrote. “Here’s my version, which is not as delicate as Curran’s original.”

Broccoli Salad

6 cups chopped broccoli florets (about 1 pound whole broccoli)

1 cup chopped red onion

2 small tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup salted sunflower seed kernels

3/4 cup fat-free honey-Dijon salad dressing

1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise

Pepper, to taste

Combine broccoli, onion, tomatoes and sunflower seeds. Combine salad dressing and mayonnaise and mix into salad. Add pepper. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings: 171 calories, 6 grams fat (32 percent fat calories), 25 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams protein, no cholesterol, 6 grams dietary fiber, 542 milligrams sodium.

Looking for a recipe? Have a food question? Carolyn Lamberson would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or e-mail to cooksnotebook@ As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.

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