Cream of Mushroom Soup with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

WEDNESDAY

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup  |  Spinach & Goat Cheese Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette & Spicy Almonds

Candle Anthropologie & bench

Today was gray & wet…a January day.  It was also a “spare the air day” here in Northern California, which means we are not allowed to have wood-burning fires.  Don’t get me started...

As I sat and worked at my computer, this candle glowed..all day.  It’s soft light shining gold on this gray day releasing a scent of tangerine and cinnamon.  In the background, my empty bulb bowl…on my to-do list for next week.

Tonight’s dinner was perfect for a gray, wet, January day.  A rich soup and a hearty salad.  Begin with the Spicy Almonds.  This recipe can be adapted for almost any nut you love {spouses excluded}.  Tonight, these almonds will make a wonderful mix-in for the spinach salad but they are pretty addictive on their own as a snack {hmmm, good thing to keep in mind with S-Bowl weekend coming up}…

Spicy Almonds {adapted from a recipe by Wendy Silver in My Favorite Chopped Salad Recipes}

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of almonds
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy & then stir in the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika & cayenne.  Fold in the almonds & melted butter, mixing well.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, spread the almonds evenly on prepared baking sheet, discarding any sauce left in the bowl.  Bake at 300°F for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool, completely.  Store the almonds in an airtight container.

Almonds Raw

Almonds Spicy IngredientsAlmonds Foamy eggsAlmonds PaprikaAlmonds tossed in dressingAlmonds in DressingAlmonds Spicy in Jar

 

Set the almonds aside & start the soup…

Cream of Mushroom Soup {adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook}

  • 1 ounce, dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme {bundled in cheesecloth}
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 large {or 6 small} garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry Vermouth
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Soak the dry mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes, until plump.  With a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a separate bowl.  Place a double-layer of cheesecloth over a small bowl and pour the mushroom soaking liquid into the bowl {allowing the cheesecloth to catch any grit}.  Set the strained soaking liquid, as well as the reconstituted mushrooms aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the thyme bundle and cook for a few minutes to infuse the oil.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, salt & pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft, translucent, but not brown.
  4. Turn the heat up to high and add the mushrooms.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the vermouth and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed
  5. Add the broths and the reconstituted mushrooms, along with the soaking water {mushroom broth}.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the thyme bundle and then add the cream and butter.  With a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth.  Keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve.

Mushrooms Dried PorciniMushrooms Dried Steeping Thyme Fresh on Cheesecloth

Thyme bundled

Okay, at this point, I must be honest.  I am the Queen of homemade stock but the Holidays depleted my stock of…stock… and I have not been able to set aside two days to make fresh batches of both chicken & beef stock.  So, when in a pinch, I use the Better Than Bouillon products.  They are better than any prepared product that I have tried and you can easily adjust the strength of the stock to suit your needs.

Better than boullion beef & chicken

With that being said, prepare two cups each of a chicken stock & a beef stock {which means adding 2 teaspoons of the Bouillon to 16 ounces of boiling water for each of the chicken & beef stocks} and set aside and continue with the recipe…

Onion & Garlic

Mushroom white buttonMushrooms & Vermouth After simmering the soup for 30 minutes, remove the thyme bundle & add the cream and butter, stirring until blended.  Then, with  hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth.  Keep the soup warm at a very low simmer until ready to serve.

Cream of mushroom soup finished

 

Now, finish the salad…

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette & Spicy Almonds {adapted from a recipe by Wendy Silver in My Favorite Chopped Salad Recipes}

  • 8 slices of applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and chopped {bacon drippings from pan reserved}
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled & crushed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces, sweet baby spinach leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup spicy almonds {see above for recipe}
  1. Add the 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings to a skillet over medium heat.  When shimmering, add the crushed garlic, but do not allow it to brown.
  2. Add the olive oil & remove from heat.  Whisk in  balsamic vinegar, Tabasco, and salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Right before serving, place spinach, red onion, almonds and chopped bacon into a large bowl.  Drizzle warm dressing on top.  Toss with crumbled Goat cheese & serve immediately.

Spinach salad ingredients

 

 

 

Spicy Almonds
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Almonds coated & baked in sauce of slat , sugar, Worcestershire, paprika & cayenne make for a crunchy salad topping or a fine spicy snack on their own.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of almonds
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy & then stir in the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika & cayenne. Fold in the almonds & melted butter, mixing well.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, spread the almonds evenly on prepared baking sheet, discarding any sauce left in the bowl. Bake at 300°F for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool, completely. Store the almonds in an airtight container

 
Cream of Mushroom Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Cream of Mushroom Soup {adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook}
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce, dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme {bundled in cheesecloth}
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 large {or 6 small} garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry Vermouth
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Soak the dry mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes, until plump. With a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a separate bowl. Place a double-layer of cheesecloth over a small bowl and pour the mushroom soaking liquid into the bowl {allowing the cheesecloth to catch any grit}. Set the strained soaking liquid, as well as the reconstituted mushrooms aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the thyme bundle and cook for a few minutes to infuse the oil.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft, translucent, but not brown.
  4. Turn the heat up to high and add the mushrooms. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the broths and the reconstituted mushrooms, along with the soaking water.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the thyme bundle and then add the cream and butter. With a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve

 
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette & Spicy Almonds
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette & Spicy Almonds
Ingredients
  • 8 slices of applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and chopped {bacon drippings from pan reserved}
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled & crushed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces, sweet baby spinach leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup spicy almonds {see above for recipe}
Instructions
  1. Add the 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings to a skillet over medium heat. When shimmering, add the crushed garlic, but do not allow it to brown.
  2. Add the olive oil & remove from heat. Whisk in balsamic vinegar, Tabasco, and salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Right before serving, place spinach, red onion, almonds and chopped bacon into a large bowl. Drizzle warm dressing on top. Toss with crumbled Goat cheese & serve immediately.

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