Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween soup, sort of

Halloween on a Saturday!  What could be better?  If I had my son this year, it definitely could have been better, but since I didn't, I spent a good portion of the day cooking - big surprise.  Meanwhile, my boyfriend, Mark, was busy decking out the front porch with 2-4ft long fluorescent black lights to set the kids aglow.  The inspiration for finding exactly what to cook was spurred by a previous trip to the asian market, where I bought a huge bag of dried shiitake mushrooms (well, only 3 oz, but for dried mushrooms, that's pretty big).  Mark loves mushrooms, Ryan doesn't, so a night without Ryan meant we were going to consume at least some of those dried fungi in a Cream of Mushroom and Barley Soup.  

The recipe starts by bringing out the essence of shallots through sauteing them in butter and oil.  A simple, but beautiful dance of flavors.  Shallots are so aromatic and this recipe uses a whole cup of them!  Not the cheapest way to go, but quite worth it in the end.  Meanwhile, soaking in a hot bath, are the pungent dried shiitakes.  The recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms, but since I had shiitakes, I went with that.

The rest of the vegetables are added to the softened shallots - mushrooms, both white and the rehydrated shiitakes, celery, and fresh sage.

After the vegetables relax together, they get coated lightly in flour and and then doused in a full cup of sherry.  Happy vegetables.  Everything is then simmered in broth and the reserved mushroom liquid.  The final addition is the cooked barley and 1/2 cup of sour cream to give it some velvety smoothness.  The best thing about this woodsy dish is that it is healthy too!

The soup was divine and the rest of the evening was quite enjoyable.  Our porch was definitely a place of entertainment for both kids and adults.  Who knew black lights could be such a draw?  Our trick-or-treaters were also privy to some dark, eerie music, provided by my own resident DJ Maleko (aka, my boyfriend Mark).

The street was quieting down, so we had to partake in the free blackjack taco from Taco Bell.  You all heard about that, right?  Free blackjack taco from 6pm - midnight on Halloween.  Don't tell me I was the only one who did that?!  It was a beautiful evening, so we strolled our neighborhood, coffee mugs in hand (minus the coffee but filled with beer), and ventured to our local Taco Bell.  The evening concluded with a hot sauce packet proposal.  Hot sauce packets with romantic sayings.  Hmm....what's next?


  1. The soup looks great and so delicious, Jen! Glad you were both able to eat mushrooms. I especially like the picture of the celery. Mia

  2. Glad you like the celery picture. I'm really trying to take some unique shots and slowly realizing I need a better camera!

  3. Your mushroom soup looks divine! Such a great fall dish. But wait...the hot sauce packet???? Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Hi Christi - it was a great fall dish and I can't wait to make it again. As for the proposal, it was more for fun, but he did get down on 1 knee in Taco Bell! We do talk about it a lot but just haven't decided on when yet. I'll keep you posted!