25 October 2009


Tonight I was excitedly planning dinner for friends from Ottawa, who will be our first visitors from the far off National Capital Region since we moved to Guelph. That's right, the rest of you made promises, but Brigitte and Frank win the prize for actually following through!

At the Guelph Farmer's Market yesterday, I was looking for a bit of inspiration for some sort of soup. I knew I could always fall back on the orange vegetables - roasted squash, pumpkin, yam, or carrot soup being some of my favourites to prepare. But there before us on a vendor's table were fresh local leeks, and that sealed the deal. Though the portabello mushrooms didn't come from the market, we did source Ontario mushrooms at the local supermarket.

And so, with that much ease, came together a fresh Cream of Leek and Portabello Mushroom soup.

1/3 white onion, loosely chopped
3 medium sized leeks, washed
5 or 6 portabello mushrooms (rinsed, dried, and chopped roughly to make about 4 cups)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for the vegetarians)
2 cups milk (or 1 1/2 cups milk + 1/2 cup light cream)
1 clove garlic (or more, if you wish)
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper

Put the olive oil into a large heavy saucepan, over slightly-under-medium heat. Add the butter and allow to melt and heat.

Chop the tips and then peel the outer layer off your leeks. Rinse very well under cold water and pat dry. Slice thinly right up the leek to just past where the inner rings are green.

Throw your onions in to the oil and butter mixture, tossing to coat. After about two minutes, add the sliced leeks, tossing again.

Give the onions and leeks another couple of minutes, then stir in the chopped mushrooms. Mix lightly, and allow to cook for about four or five minutes. Stir again, lowering heat to medium low.

In the mean time, chop the clove of garlic roughly. Toss that in the pot, stirring gently in.

Let your mushrooms and leeks and onions mixture cook for another few minutes, until everything is nice and soft and the mushrooms have "melted". Add generous amounts of salt and pepper. Now pour in the stock. Mix, cover, and allow to simmer on very low heat for about 30 minutes. It's not rocket science...if the heat's on low, you can let this simmer quite some time.

Remove from heat, and uncover. Allow to cool for about 20 to 30 minutes, then use either an immersion blender or a traditional blender (do it in small batches if you use a blender) to cream the soup to a velvety smooth consistency. You want all the lumps gone!

Add your milk (and cream if you wish) and taste for seasoning. You can simmer this mixture to get it piping hot again to serve, or allow to cool fully and refrigerate until dinner time.

Mine will be garnished with a drizzle of light cream and some home-made bacon bits, but you'd do just as well with a light dollop of sour cream or creme fraƮche and a sprig of parsley. This is easily enough soup for 6 for appetizers or for 4 for a meal.

This will go very well with an Ontario Riesling or a rich Californian Chardonnay.

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