Snowmageddon! that's what the newspapers called our recent snow and ice storms, and now a series of wind events are stacked up off the west coast. Oh joy, TV weather dudes see more power outages on the horizon. This blustery January weather calls for a hearty, comforting soup, something easy to prepare, something special that invites you to linger over a steaming bowl of deliciousness.
This longtime favorite recipe comes from an old leather-bound cookbook by Mary and Vincent Price - yes, that Vincent Price, the actor. A Treasury of Great Recipes was printed in 1965 but it remains a well-used resource today. My copy arrived that very year as a Christmas present from RL. It holds special status as the first cookbook he ever bought for me. I still smile when I read the Christmas card and its message tucked inside the front cover: "...have fun making good things happen!" This soup is one of those good things.
The Price's recipe found them one cold, rainy day in Venice, recommended by the owner of a small restaurant whose name they didn't recall. I'm delighted they remembered the soup recipe; it has warmed us up on many cold, rainy days in Seattle. It's even been a success as a starter to a couple of dinners and is always well received. Try this one, it's a keeper.
Mushroom Soup with Parmesan Cheese
adapted only slightly from A Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent Price
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced vertically into long, thin slices
1 clove garlic, split
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced thinly, top to bottom
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons sweet Italian vermouth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon, grated or shredded with a microplane
4 or more 1-inch slices of Italian bread
To prepare the soup:
Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-low heat. Saute the onion slices and garlic slowly until golden brown; discard the garlic pieces before they brown too much and burn. (Think French onion soup in this step.)
Stir in the sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes, until they soften and turn golden. Add tomato paste and mix well.
Add the chicken stock. Stir to blend and add the sweet vermouth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
To finish and serve:
Beat together the egg yolks, parsley, Parmesan cheese and lemon zest.
Butter and grill one side only of thick slices of French bread.
Place one slice of bread in each soup bowl.
Beat the egg mixture into the simmering soup: ladle over the bread slices and serve immediately. (I prefer to serve the bread alongside.)
Optional: Garnish with additional parsley, Parmesan and lemon zest.