Nothing pleases me more of an evening than when a meal comes together in less than 45 minutes.
That’s inclusive of chopping and all that nonsense.
Except washing up. You’re on your own there.
Albeit we are still muscling through the beginning of the middle of the end of Winter, I am still in the full sweeps of hunkering down. And a hunker down is made hunkier by a bowl of creamy yet curiously creamless soup.
I grew up with mushrooms soup. Cream laced bowls of stone coloured soup with whooping rips of fresh bread just sings the song of my mother’s love.
She always downplays the beauty of her mushroom soup, and even though I consider myself more-than-basic in the kitchen, I will still always call her – stood stirring with the phone wedged between my shoulder and face – asking her for the step-by-step recipe.
But I must admit I went a little rogue with this particular recipe both with method and ingredients.
I’ve been baking my soup ingredients for a while now because while stirring brings me immense joy and solace, of an evening when I’m in a race with the moon and getting a decent bed time chained to the stove is not where I want to be.
I put all of the ingredients in a roasting pan, get that gorgeous smoky char on the surface and then blend everything to a creamy soup. No cream necessary.
Not because I have anything against cream personally, I just think that sometimes if you don’t need it, don’t use it.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Grab a whole punnet of chestnut mushrooms and hack away at them with a scissors until you have a punnet of shroom shards. Throw these in a baking pan – yes all of them.
Throw in three crushed cloves of garlic.
Throw in a barely chopped onion. I went for a handful of pink shallots, but don’t stress, a normal white onion would be fine.
Now add a good tablespoon or so of thyme leaves. I would say try and get the leaves from the stalks as best as you can before throwing them in because the stalk don’t blend down as good as they should, damn it.
Nothing is worse than plucking a thyme stalk from your teeth.
Sprinkle over a small dash of nutmeg, a hefty hand of sea salt and a generous twist of pepper. Pour over a glug of olive oil and mix everything up.
Bung in the oven for 30 minutes and boil a kettle of water.
After the cooking time, don’t be alarmed that everything would have morbidly decreased in size and looks like a shadow of its original pan but go with it for now.
Empty the pan of ingredients into a blender (sorry if you don’t have one – a hand blender would be fine, or a really enthusiastic potato masher!) – and drop in a vegetable stock cube.
Pour in a splash of hot water from the kettle and run the motor. Add as much water as you want to get your desired consistency. I probably added just over a cup so that it goes creamy but not watery.
Serve this up with nothing more than another sprinkle of thyme leaves and a big, stonking slab of fresh bread and real butter.