Thursday, January 27, 2011

Leftover Soup for a snowy day

This is  a narrative of how this afternoon's soup came together... there are times when I'm a serious improvisational cook, (well, maybe serious isn't quite the word for it) and while it's not clear how the decisions are made, the results can be remarkably... not bad. In this case, it's a Cream of mushroom soup, with pan fried pieces of basil pesto chicken sausage.

We were supposed to get 8-12" of snow last and into this morning, so I'd penciled in today as a snow day, figuring I'd stay home from the shop, and get some writing done. Looking out the window, I think I woke up at 10 to blue skies, and looked out the window to find that we got some of that 8", and then the wind carried the rest away. I got the subtle feeling that I was starting the day as a slacker... this is not un-drivable weather. So, I started reveling in the slacker feeling, and hoping that this weekend's snowstorm won't keep me from being productive. Anyway, around lunchtime, I was looking at food blogs (what else) and got the urge to make soup... again.

"Baby, we HAVE soup... you made some the other night, remember? Not to mention all the other leftovers?"

Of course I remembered that we still had soup. But all I could think about was NEW soup. I'm not saying it's logical, but either way, smitten kitchen had a gorgeous picture up of a whole head of garlic that had been used to flavor a pot of soup, and I was damned if I was going to let Sunday night's leftover soup get in the way of trying this out. My impulse control around food when I'm spending the day at home isn't the best... but in this case, the impulse is healthier than normal. I'm cooking healthy soup, not binging on cheese and crackers and chocolate milk. What could be bad about that? I WANT GARLIC!!!

Did I mention that I'd been up for 2 and a half hours and was already on my third cup of coffee?

I started with chopped onions, celery, and scallions, and sent them off to cook in a puddle of olive oil, while I rummaged around for more ingredients. We had leftover mushrooms from making spaghetti sauce... that sounded good. And potatoes... potatoes are good. And garlic... oh, garlic.

I chopped the top off of a small head of garlic. I didn't quite slice off as much as I'd intended, so I had to slice again. I put the rest of the head to one side, and the tips and slices of garlic clove got minced up, thrown in with the sliced mushrooms, and that all went into the pot on top of the bed of onions and scallions and celery. I let it sit that way until I could smell the mushrooms cooking, and then stirred the mushrooms in. With the veggies cooked, it was time to add broth, and chopped up potatoes, 2 bay leaves, and the head of garlic, which had been washed and mostly de-skinned. And a tablespoon of whole-grain dijon mustard, because, well... why not?

In the meantime, I started poking around for more raw ingredients, I found a pair of basil pesto chicken sausages that, after 2 days, were already starting to get freezer burn. So I figured I'd add those in, but the question was when? At this point, everything jelled in my mind. I got the mental image of a nice cream of mushroom and potato soup, with sliced up pieces of pan fried sausage floating in it. That sounds good!

So, once the soup had simmered for 30 minutes, I fired up the skillet, added the slices of sausage, and started dumping the now-cooked soup into the blender. Once blended, I strained the result through the steam basket into the pot below, and added the sausage.


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