Are you part of a couple? Have you been together long enough to have developed your own language, a shorthand that only the two of you share and understand? In the interest of not making you, dear reader, nauseous nor embarrassing Hungry Hubby by divulging more than is necessary, I will simply tell you that from the very early days of our relationship, we have loved saying words with an “oo” sound in and one day after reading a Chinese take away menu offering “mushroom soup with bamboo shoots”, we found one of our own private catch phrases that have survived to this day. We love the sound of it, as much as we love to eat it… Yes that is a little strange/sad/bizarre/tragic/romantic. Which could also describe us, I suppose! Let’s more quickly away from our never-before-public-knowledge silliness to the deliciousness of this new recipe – a slow cooker mushroom soup (this time without bamboo shoots) to warm your cockles and make your packed lunch a much more exciting prospect.
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see I make good use of my slow cooker. There are a few recipes in my notes section there which aren’t on the blog. Since I turned veggie on 1st January, it’s been invaluable in making soups for lunches and I tend to do them by throwing the ingredients together last thing before bed and leaving them to cook until I wake up the next morning when I plunge in my stick blender and then ladle into my preheated thermos to take to work with me. It keeps me away from rubbish prepacked sandwiches which are expensive, tasteless, nutrient poor and calorie high. If I’ve baked some bread, that will come with me but more often that not, it’s a generous serving of vegetable soup which accompanies me to my gainful employment each day. I maintain it is this plus my fruit smoothie breakfast habit which has also helped me shift a stone in weight and generally made me feel much better in myself. Be gone, the dreaded bloat and bad skin of the lazy, carbohydrate addict JoJo!
Although, you can still be lazy when you’re slow cooking and not compromise on texture nor taste. As all these veggies are going to be cooked until very soft and then blended, you can chunk them up however you wish. It was strangely satisfying to pile up all those ‘shroomies and hack at them with my chef knife! It’s the small things… The rest goes in with a meagre amount of stock (from a cube – I like Kallo very low salt organic vegetable stock cubes), as remember, you get little evaporation from slow cookers so you don’t want to go overboard on the liquid content of your recipe or you will have a bland, diluted finished dish that can’t be saved. Aim to never to have so much liquid that it covers your other ingredients and you’ll have a perfect soup, bar some last minute seasoning however you like it.
Tubs of mushroom soup in the chiller cabinets of your local supermarket are often a little disappointing to me. They use things like flour and rice as thickeners and you just know, they use the cheapest button mushrooms rather than more interning and flavourful cultivated examples. I use chestnut mushrooms and some dried porcinis (just a small amount) to ramp up the flavour and you’ll be shocked at how rich a colour your soup ends up when the bulk of the dish is actually mushrooms! Also, for me, I need heat in my homemade soups – I often sprinkle on offensive amounts of cracked black pepper or chilli flakes even as I eat spoonful by spoonful. Having built up an impressive tolerance to spice, please heed my advice here – if you add the optional chilli to the vegetables as they cook, it will get hotter than you think with all those hours in the slow cooker in much the same way they do when you slow cook a curry. If you like just a little heat, add the chilli as you blitz the cooked soup instead. A 80s drizzle of cream is another fire blanket worthy of use here too.
And in case you’re wondering what that basket is holding behind the soup, it’s an experimental batch of soft cloverleaf rolls – the recipe isn’t quite there yet but when it is, it will be shared with you. I can’t tell you how good it was to rip one apart and smear with a little Philadelphia cream cheese, as a change from butter as I ate my soup. Or as me and Hungry Hubby call it, mushroom soop…
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 carrots
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 red chilli, sliced (optional)
- 500g chestnut mushrooms
- 2 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms (or mixed wild ones will do)
- 500ml vegetable stock (from a cube is fine!)
- Put your dried mushrooms in a small bowl and just cover with boiling water – I use a 1 cup measuring cup for this.
- If you have a hob save slow cooker insert, pop that on the cooker on medium heat with the oil in. If not, use a large pot.
- Chop the onions, celery and carrots very roughly into even sized chunks and add to the oil with the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and if using the chilli. Please read the blog post note on the chilli, especially if you don’t like your food too hot.
- Make sure your mushrooms are clean and run your knife through them to break them down a little. Add to the pan also.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes until the veg becomes a little caramelised around the edges then tip in your stock and the soaked dried mushrooms – I carefully pour in the liquid they have steeped in apart from the final tbsp or so which is full of sediment you don’t want in your soup.
- Transfer to your slow cooker base and cook on low for 6 hours.
- Remove from the slow cooker and use a stick blender to puree. Now I like my soups thick but if you prefer, add a little more stock at this stage until you get the consistency you desire.
- Note – any leftover soup can be used to make a risotto with in the place of the stock any day you have the time and energy to stand by the stove for 30 minutes. It freezes beautifully but most vegetable soups keep in a large covered jug in the fridge extremely well for 3 days, reheating a bowlful at a time as needed.
- Serve with a drizzle of cream, truffle oil or black pepper etc as liked.