Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I may have mentioned that I grew up in Russia, which means that soup was an every-day first course of the dinner. Any soup would do. The idea is that it's healthy, good for your stomach and it makes you feel full for a long time. It's just like a tradition there. And with a doctor mom, this was a must. So by the time I was 11-12 years old I fairly fed up with it. That's when my first attempts to cook something started. My mom was pretty fine with it as long as I would actually eat something healthy and not just "dry food" (meaning sandwiches, chips and all the other junk). I was quite happy about it, so I didn't eat any soup for few years, maybe just once in a blue moon.
Anyways, once upon a time, while I was already studying in Amsterdam, I was thinking of something to cook for dinner. And suddenly a soup came to my mind. I tried to get rid of this idea, still occupied by my childhood memories but it just would not go away. So, soup it is! Now, the problem was that I never cooked one in my life and of course I was too proud to call my mom to ask her. She would answer with that winning attitude "I told you one day you will appreciate it!". So I decided to figure something out myself. Back in Moscow we had this class at school where girls would learn how to cook, knit and sew and the guys were learning all those constructions and fixing the pipes and whatever else. Now that I'm thinking about it... Very unfair to divide the class, as if guys don't have to know how to cook and of course fixing the pipes could be sometimes useful for a woman as well. Anyways, at one of those classes we cooked a soup. So I tried to remember some of the basic ingredients. So... Potatoes, carrots, onions, chicken and whatever else you wanna add. Anyways, the soup turned out to be very good, I have to admit that I actually missed it and really enjoyed having it for dinner.
So now that I it is so cold and snowy outside I had a real craving for a mushroom soup. It is sooo easy to cook that I managed to actually prepare it in 2 TV breaks! Ok, I peeled the potatoes and carrots in front of the TV, which of course saved me some time but you pretty much need about 15-20 minutes in total. So here it goes:
2.5 liters water
1/2 chicken breast, skinless , boneless, cut into bites (optional, you could substitute it with a proper number of stock cubes for a vegetarian version)
3 cups mushrooms, washed and quartered
4 large potatoes, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled, cut in semicircles
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 pinches rosemary
2 bay leaves
2-3 dry chillies (I like it spicy though, you could use just one or none)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt, pepper to taste
1. Cut the potatoes. Most people usually cut them into large cubes, but I follow my mom and cut them like for french fries, just a bit bigger.
2. Place a pot with water on a strong heat, add the potatoes, chicken, rosemary, bay leaves and chillies with some salt and let them cook.
3. Meanwhile warm up 1 tbsp of oil and fry the mushrooms until they are nicely golden.
4. 5 minutes after the water in the pot starts boiling add the fried mushrooms to the soup.
5. In the same pan that you used for the mushrooms warm up the rest of the oil and fry there the carrots along with onion and garlic until the vegetables are soft. Pour the mix into the pot with the soup.
6. Cook until the potatoes are soft and you could break them with a spoon. Add the parsley and adjust the seasoning. Let it cook for a couple of minutes more so that the parsley releases it's flavor. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool just a little before serving.
Another thing that I started using in the soup lately is ginger. Just finely chop a 2cm piece of ginger root and add it together with carrots and onions. It gives to the soup a really nice spicy touch and it smells wonderfully. But you could skip it and use any other spice that you like. Also if you wanna make it even healthier than it already is, don't fry the vegetables, and just add them raw to the pot. You could also avoid the oil this way, but believe me, frying makes it much more delicious and the oil gives a beautiful golden color to the stock.