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Velvet Mushroom Stroganov

This all-vegetable soup is earthy, rich, and pure velvet--like you've just stepped out of a Russian birch forest in autumn. The recipe was contributed by Christopher Bruinslot of Garden Grove, California--about to become a first-time dad with wife Andie in November...and assigned kitchen duty for the interim. He's been cooking up a storm of soup, pasta sauce, and chili and freezing them for weekday meals. He says, "this simple soup is meat free and full of flavor." He's right--serve hot to 4-5 people as a substantial first course. Also great for lunch with a sandwich.

Garnish: pieces of chives

Sauté the mushrooms, garlic, and onions in oil over high heat until the mushrooms are browned but not soft. Add sherry and reduce. Add water to cover the mushrooms. Add carrot and celery, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Strain the stock, reserving the broth. Discard the carrot and celery.

In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter and slowly stir in the flour to make a roux. Brown the roux lightly. Add the reserved broth in small increments until it is all incorporated. Add 1 cup of sour cream. Bring up to a simmer. Depending on what consistency you would like, add another cup of sour cream or a combination of milk and sourcream.

Five minutes before you are ready to serve, add the mushrooms and season to taste. Simmer for a few minutes, then ladle into bowls. Top each with chives.