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Lovely Mushroom Soup

The Writers' Block #18 - Theme: Lovely mushroom soup

I spend some time on my hands and knees.

At my age, I haven’t got long before my bony patellas shoot with pain and I get cramp in my toes.

Finally, after much jiggling, shuffling and cursing, I find the large thick-bottomed pot hiding in the very place it should be, but for some reason, although staring at it for ages, I simply can’t see it in the gloom of the cupboard.

I emit cracks and groans as I stand up.

Once the head-rush has subsided I place the pan on a medium high heat and pour in a few glugs of olive oil. I usually stand and stare at it awhile and, rather impatiently, never wait long enough for it to get hot before swirling in quite a lot of butter.

Around this point, I realise I haven’t prepared anything, so I scurry to the fridge and fumble around for the mushrooms. On all fours once more, chasing rogue ones around the kitchen floor, knowing the three-second rule is just a myth. My standard thirty-second, or until it’s located, rule is sufficient.

Another head-rush survived, I start chopping, doing far too many, simply because they shrink once they cook. As each button is sliced, in it goes, by now with a little sizzle. I read in a recipe that 1/8th of an inch is the suggested width of a slice - you can guess what I thought when I read that…

Next, struggle through the drawer to find a stirry-thing: a spoon or spatula, a rolling pin or over-sized fork. I usually go for wood, don’t know why. Then I stir the mushrooms a little, making sure they all get to touch the heated oil. Pretty quickly they exude liquid, but I keep going until they start to brown.

Now it’s time to rush around again because, even though I knew yesterday I would be doing this, as explained, I’m caught by surprise that there are other things to do.

I tut and make a mental note not to let this happen again.

I will forget this mental note.

A small bowl is grabbed and a spoonful or so of the mushrooms are placed into it. This is to be kept on the side and used later as a form of garnish.

Back to the fridge! Shallots required. Shallots, shallots, shallots.

After much rummaging, removing of packets and tubs and just a little bit of foul language, the shallots surprise me by tumbling and rolling. Like an unruly flock, I take care to gather them. Just a few. Of course, ridiculously, it all depends on their size, but a few is my recommendation.

Peel and chop the shallots. Technically into a state where they are minced. Some use a mini food-blender or similar device, but, being unprepared, I simply can’t be bothered searching one out, plugging it in and blending. So I chop. Finely. Then in they go with the sizzling mushrooms.

I enjoy the smell and sound as they hit the heat.

Then instantly reduce the heat to medium and go in search of garlic. My lucky number three works best here. Three cloves. Choppy choppy, crushy crushy or spoony spoony from a jar. Whichever is the simplest choice on the day: in they go.

Followed by whatever seasoning I have to hand. I seek out the dried herb pots and fumble through, muttering the words as though it would make it march to the front. Dried tarragon is hiding near the back as though it hadn’t wanted to be found. Then salt.

Ah! Stock. Blast. Kettle on for hot water and the search for a stock cube (chicken or vegetarian). After a short pause, waiting for the water to boil, a litre or so of stock is made and added and the heat goes up until the whole concoction simmers.

Leave it for ten minutes.

That gives me plenty of time to find a nice wine and a glass.

That’s better.

I casually open random cupboards. The hand blender must be around somewhere. If only I’d found it for the shallots… At the back of the low shelving. Where else?

Head-rush over, I slurp some more wine and blend the soup.

Allowing the blender to dribble on its journey to the sink, I collect a nice bowl left over from breakfast.

The soup is then ladled - with anything suitable that I can find - into the bowl. I retrieve the tub of thick cream that I had neglected to return to the fridge when on my shallot-hunt and scoop a spoonful in. I place the reserved cooked mushrooms on the top and then sprinkle some black pepper and salt to taste.

To check, I burn the tip of my tongue, therefore ruining any chance I had of enjoying the dish to the full. But whatever has occurred, three things I know to be true:

Nobody died;

The world is a wonderful place;

And this is lovely mushroom soup.


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