First Snow of the Season (Creamy Mushroom Soup with Spinach)

Halloween hasn’t even passed, but here in the north country we’ve already been hit with a pretty gnarly snow storm. At least Lake Placid has… So I’m holed up here in my nook of an apartment, ice festooning the trees outside my window and falling intermittently in great chunks off the roof. The image that plays in my mind is that of a cabin deep in the wilderness, a hearty homesteadin’ mama, alone save for her sparse belongings, some cast iron cookware and a fire roaring… What is one to do when the snow has piled itself against the door and there is no one around for miles? Uh duh. Make soup. So get ready, ’cause there are hecka soup recipes comin’ your way.

This particular foray into the fantastic world of soup making has reunited me with an earthy, nutritious, and umami-rich friend; the shiitake mushroom. There are soooo many health benefits to these babies, I could go on for days. Suffice it to say that they contain all eight essential amino acids, B12, interferons– which can stop the replication, of viruses, parasites, bacteria, and cancer cell… as well as beta glucans that basically make your immune cells more effective.

I’ve gone ahead and thrown in some spinach… Yea, you know about spinach. You know about the chlorophyll (found in all plants with green pigment) and how its molecular structure is almost exactly the same as that of our red blood cells, but provides us with much needed magnesium and subsequently helps to detoxify and oxygenate the blood. You know all that. Not to mention that spinach is an awesome source of iron as well as fiber that essentially scrubs out the digestive system.

All that being said, let’s slip into something a little more tasty…

The Goods:

  • 1 pkg. shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 pkg. baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 small head of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 hand full spinach x how ever many folks you’re serving
  • 1 scallion x how ever many folks you’re serving
  • 1/2 c. sesame seeds + some for garnish
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. + a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. sunflower (or other med-high heat oil)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2″x3″ piece of kombu
  • 3 1/2 – 4 c. broth
  • 1/2 avocado x how ever many folks you’re serving
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The Method:

Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-low heat. If you have an electric range, that’s probably around 3. Chop the mushrooms into pieces between 1/2″ and 1″. Add oil to the pan. Once it’s hot, throw in the mushies with a generous pinch of salt.

Initially they’ll look like this. While they’re cooking, stir them every so often. You’ll notice that they’re sweatin’ it out, losing lots of water. This is OKAY!
Once they’re done, they’ll look like this. You’re gonna wanna turn off that burner.

Now it’s time to get into our mirapoix– which is just a fancy French way of saying carrots, celery, and onion– but I like to be fancy, so I said it. We’re gonna make it extra fancy and add some garlic to the mix. Smash the garlic cloves, halve and peel the onion, chop the celery and carrots in to blender-friendly chunks and deposit all of the above into your blender canister.

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Next we’ll add the salt, chili flakes, sesame seeds, and broth.

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Then it should look like this…
Blend it up on high speed. Don’t forget to put the top on! And VOILA. You have a nondescript beige┬ásubstance. Looks good, huh? Just wait!
Pour this stuff into a sauce pan with your bay leaves and kombu for some additional layers of flavor.

Cover and allow this concoction to simmer for about half an hour, stirring regularly. While your taste buds are being aroused by the sumptuous smells emanating from beneath the lid, go ahead and chop your spinach, slice your scallion(s), toast your sesame seeds, and dice your avocado.

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Once the timer goes off and you’re in a daze of delicious aromas, throw a handful of spinach in the bottom of each bowl, then ladle some soup over top, then scoop your avocado and sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Ce magnifique!

Oh yea, then eat it!

Happy first snow of the season to all y’all north country folk and homesteadin’ mamas (and papas). Tune in next time for more sassy soup tales from the Princess and the Peashoot.