Cost of Living

Cheap and Easy: Cream of Mushroom and White Bean Soup

My Husband is a mushroom lover. My Husband is a wine lover. Given the choice of where to swing a little extra budget, we go for the wine. I’ve learned to turn a simple vegetables into many delightful dishes, yet I’ve never found any tricks to making a simple wine into something spectacular.

Over the top expensive mushrooms are lovely and fun to cook with, yet a good old handful of white button or even cremini mushrooms when sautéd with butter, garlic and fresh herbs are perfectly pleasing and much more budget friendly. This dish came about before a trip where I was trying to use the ingredients on hand to empty the fridge. I had mushrooms, goat cheese and not much else! I learned a few things with this dish though that make it worth a quick share.

  • Left Over Bread Makes Quick Crostini: If you have a baguette your not going to finish, slice it up and freeze the piece. Later, you can pull out the slices and create a simple crostini with very little effort. Toss the frozen slices on a baking sheet at 375° for a few minutes to thaw them, then spray them with good olive oil (which I keep in my Misto a kitchen gadget I love) and put them back in the over till they turn toasty and golden. Then while still hot, rub them lightly with a fresh garlic clove. In this case, I then added goat cheese and gave it another 2 minutes in the oven to melt down a bit, then finished with fresh parsley a drizzle of olive oil and Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. 
  • Trick to Browning Mushrooms: Thanks to Ina Garten and a little research, I picked up a few tips that always work for me. The Maillard Reaction is the technical explanation for why foods get all delicious and golden brown when heated. Without getting to technical, with mushrooms, I’ve found if you don’t overcrowd the pan (since mushrooms give off so much liquid) and go slow and patient (medium heat for about 10 minutes) you’ll get a caramelized mushroom.
  • Use Cannellini Beans to Thicken Soups: Another one of my favorite ladies of the kitchen, Ellie Krieger has an amazing and healthy Tuscan Vegetable Soup recipe that I turn to over and over again. One trick I borrow when making other soups is to add mashed cannellini beans, to thicken a soup instead of using heavy creams. Much healthier and honestly delicious.

Here is my Sort of Recipes for the soup pictured above.

  • Brown mushrooms with butter, garlic, thyme and rosemary
  • Removed them and set aside for platting later
  • Add a drained can of cannellini beans and sauté with the herbs for a few minutes
  • Add a few leaves of freshly chopped sage and 1/4 cup of dry white wine
  • After the wine reduces by half, add enough broth (chicken or vegetable would work, mushroom would be best if you have it) to cover the beans and simmer for about 10 minutes
  • Blend the soup to a texture you like, then salt and pepper to taste
  • If you feel it needs it, add a dash of cream and let simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors come together

I absolutely, positively love my Bamix immersion blender and literally use it daily on my breakfast shakes. It’s also my tool of choice when I want to get a soup… say the one pictured above… from beans in broth to creamy. Just blend until you like the texture and as Ina says, “how easy is that!”

Plating this soup was half the fun and likely half the reason my Husband was so impressed. When you pull the mushrooms aside, instead of mixing them back in the soup, they keep their caramelized texture that you fought so hard to get. Here, simply pile them up in the center of the bowl, then pour the soup around the mushrooms. The crostini can be perched between the edge of the bowl and the mushrooms, staying crispy for dunking through the entire meal.

Side note: I swear the genius behind boxed wine are missing the boat by not marketing to home cooks! Wine in a box keeps far longer then in the bottle. These days there are plenty of great choices like Black Box Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll find yourself using it in all kids of recipes. If you stick to bottles one might feel a little guilty opening a bottle just for a little dash for a dish. That same person might then feel obligated to drink more of said bottle of wine so it doesn’t go to waste, I’m just saying. That same person then might be a little too tipsy at dinner to fully enjoy the thoroughly delicious Muga her Husband so thoughtfully selected to go with supper. I’m just saying, it could happen.

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