Ain’t life just like that sometimes?? The very last night of NaBloPoMo and TONIGHT I develop IT troubles. It started with problems with the internet browser and after reopening Internet Explorer a few times I though I would re-start the machine to see if that sorted it out. Only… when I restarted it, Windows refused to boot up fully. Great. So here I am in the dead of night in Windows safe mode, trying to get one last lousy post done. So forgive my brevity!
Cast your mind back to Spring – time of buds and shoots, nodding daffodils, carpets of crocuses and… my birthday! This year I opted for lunch with Johanna on the Big Day and a quiet lunch a deux with Nick the following day. We had one of my favourite treats: roast duck (I believe it may even have been another Nigel Slater recipe which I'll have to share with you sometime soon). A lovely afternoon was had by all, eating the perfectly crisped roast duck and sipping the sublime Graham Beck Cuvee 2000 sparkling wine, carefully brought back all the way from South Africa.
And after all the plates had been licked and the last drop of champagne drained, all that remained were the dishes to be done and one picked-clean duck carcass. I couldn't just throw it away, so into the pot it went together with enough water to cover it, a roughly chopped carrot, onion and stick of celery; a bay leaf; and some peppercorns. An hour or two of slow boiling, a quick pour through the strainer, and voila! Duck stock! While cleaning out the freezer the other day, Nick came across a container full of what looked like particularly unappetising brown liquid which he was regarding with distaste just as I was wondering what to make for dinner. The duck stock that came in from the cold, so to speak. I defrosted it and the smell for some reason brought to mind the autumnal flavour of mushrooms. A peek into the fridge revealed a punnet of chestnut mushrooms – hurrah! And so was born my very first duck-and-mushroom soup, with a splash of truffle oil. The duck stock is the perfect base for this, although I'm sure that chcicken stock would be just fine.
I'll resist the temptation to start this recipe with "first, kill your duck".
MUSHROOM SOUP (serves 4)
1 punnet chestnut or button mushrooms
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small clove of garlilc, crushed
1 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp plain flour
2 cups duck or chicken stock
1.5 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
salt & pepper
truffle oil to serve
parsley to garnish
Sautee the chopped onions and garlic in a little olive oil until they are translucent – do not caramelise. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook briefly until the mushrooms are soft. Add the butter and once it is melted, stir in the flour to make a paste
Add the chicken stock gradually, stirring carefully to prevent lumps. Add the milk and stir. Remove from the heat and give it a whirl with an immersion blender to get a really smooth consistency. Stir in the cream and return to the heat to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve garnished with parsley leaves and a few drops of truffle oil.
NOTES: This is dead easy to make and the truffle oil adds a touch of luxury, but is by no means essential. Something about the flavour of the duck stock works with the mushrooms and thyme as if they were made for one another. A match made in heaven!
I'm submitting this post as my entry to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, kindly hosted by event founder Kalyn's Kitchen this week. – send your entries to her today at kalynskitchen (at) comcast (dot) net.
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