Friday, January 8, 2010

Mushroom Soup (Minestra di Funghi), from Elizabeth David

Soup has been under discussion over at The Crow, so here's my contribution--lifted from Italian Food (1958) by Elizabeth David, left [links to NYT obit].
"When Mrs David published her first book in 1950, post-war rationing was still in place and olive oil was only found in chemists in bottles marked “for external use only”. British housewives were making do with Spam, dried egg and over-boiled cabbage. David changed all that. "
--from the description of the film about her: Elizabeth David, A Life in Cooking (2006, BBC); which didn't seem to do for her what Julie & Julia (2009) did for Julia Child.

This recipe is another thing I rediscovered looking through the visual journal (right) I kept while studying Roman History. The soup is wonderful, but I haven't made it since I drank up the bottle of Marsala I'd bought to make it.

I've left the original measurements and put U.S. equivalents in parentheses.
Except the sherry glass--which can be anything from 2 to 6 oz.; its conversion depends on how much you like Marsala. I'd start with a 1/4 cup (2 oz.) for a subtle taste--you can always splash in more.
And an Imperial pint is only 10 oz.; I rounded up a bit.


"The Marsala and the large quantity of parsley give the soup a flavour rather different from that of the usual mushroom soup."
--E. David

(Béchamel sauce is just white sauce with a swank name. --F.)

Prepare the béchamel sauce with
1 oz. (2 T) of butter
2 T of flour
1 1/2 pints (15 oz., 2 c.) hot milk.
Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and let cook at least 15 minutes.


3/4 lb. mushrooms
1 1/2 oz. (3 T) butter
a bunch of parsley
a sherry glassful (1/4 c.) of Marsala
bechamel sauce (recipe above)
a breakfast cupful (1.2 c.) of stock

Wash the mushrooms, chop them up very small, and cook them gently in 1 1/2 oz. (3 T) butter for about 10 minutes. Then add a little finely chopped garlic, the parsley (also chopped), salt, pepper, and the Marsala.
After 2-3 minutes, pour in the béchamel, then the stock.
Let it heat thoroughly, and if the soup is too thick, add a little more stock or milk.

Enough for four people.
And now, I have got to stop thinking about anything but the Netherlands--the ms is due in one week, and I have been dawdling.


femminismo said...

Mushroom soup sounds good right about now. Thanks for making this great post. My thoughts are on Italy *right now*. - Jeanne

bink said...

I forgot about this soup...which seems surprising because I remember thinking it was one of the best soups ever! And I'm not even a fan of parsley.

Hmm...I have everything but the parsley...I wonder how it taste with cilantro? If only it was gluten free...

The Crow said...

(Re: bink's list)

...and I have everything but the marsala! I don't think Irish whiskey will make a good substitute. Thank you for the recipe, Fresca; will try it soon.

My daughter and I loved Julia and Julie. We both loved watching Julia Child on PBS, especially her later programs where she had guest chefs appear with her. Loved how she flirted with Jacques Pepin!


Fresca said...

FEMM: Italy. Sigh...

You could try substituting corn starch for flour, bink.
And, gee, a nice peaty whiskey might go nicely with the earthiness of mushrooms, Crow. : )

I love "Julie & Julia" too--brought back memories of watching Julie Child with my mother too, and I liked the story of the blogger too, because she was a *blogger*. Like us!