The Best Soup Recipe Of All Time

 

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Toronto set a record yesterday. Thursday was the coldest December 28th ever recorded in the city, a bone-chilling -22 degrees. The previous record was set back in 1960, when John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister and Toronto and Montreal met in the Stanley Cup final.

You need some hot soup. Stat!

 

Time for soup!

Time for soup!

 

This is the best soup recipe of all time. And the simplest, and richest. It is ideal for the new Ice Age we seem to be entering.

It is a mushroom soup – some of you might protest that you hate mushroom soup. I dare you to try this version – I double dog dare you. It will surely change your life. And if it doesn’t, well, at the very least it will warm you up.

Some of you might be tempted not to bother with it and just grab the can opener. Please hold off: making your own cream of mushroom soup is totally easy, and the difference in flavour is astounding. Shocking really.

One of the great things about this soup is you don’t necessarily need to add stock or broth; you make a quick mushroom broth from the stems and peels of the mushrooms as you prepare it. If you do have a good beef or chicken stock, by all means use it, or part of it in lieu of water as it will enrich your soup. But if you don’t have any on hand, or if you are vegetarian, you will still have a fantastic flavour due to the combination of sautéed onions, mushrooms and CREAM*.

 

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*Full fat baby, it’s important at times like these.

This amazing mushroom soup recipe (my favourite of all time!) comes from Quebec’s legendary Jehane Benoit who calls it, coincidentally, “My Favourite Cream of Mushroom Soup.” Mme Benoit, born in Montreal in 1904, studied at the Sorbonne before opening her own cooking school and authoring two dozen cookbooks, including the massive (almost 2,000 recipes) “Encyclopedia Of Cooking” published in French in 1963 and in English two years later, from whence this recipe comes. Mme Benoit is old-school; her recipe calls for peeling the mushroom caps. This is a sort of meditative and calming task, not unlike removing the arils of a pomegranate or the shells of fava beans; not something to do if you are in a rush! And not altogether necessary; I made this soup without peeling the mushroom caps and lived to tell the tale. One added note I would make is this: cook your roux a little longer than usual to brown the butter and flour somewhat and impart a nice deep colour to your finished soup.

 

Sauté the mushrooms and onions until just soft

Sauté the mushrooms and onions until just soft

As the mercury is expected to huddle below zero well into the new year, I advise you to make a big batch of this soup for New Year’s Day. You could do worse than starting your new year with something this hearty, delicious and warming. Served with thick slices of buttered bread, “My Favourite Cream of Mushroom Soup” will likely become your favourite too.

 

Jehane Benoit’s Favourite Cream of Mushroom Soup

serves 4

½ pound fresh mushrooms

3 cups boiling water

½ teaspoon salt

1 small onion

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

1 cup cream

salt and pepper

 

~Peel the mushrooms and remove the stems. Place the peels and stems in a saucepan. Cover with boiling water. Season with salt and simmer for 1/2 hour. Drain and set the mushroom broth aside. Discard the peels.

~Cut the peeled mushroom caps into thin slices. Chop the onion and sauté slowly in 2 tbsp butter until the mushrooms are brown and tender. About 3-4 minutes.

~ Melt 3 tbsp butter in a separate saucepan. Stir in the flour, blend thoroughly and add the mushroom broth together with the cream. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the onion and the mushrooms. Simmer for five minutes and serve.

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