Let me be crystal clear here–Ruth Reichl is my Tom Cruise, my Justin Timberlake, my Barbara Streisand. Very few people make me lose my shit. Ruth is one.
She is the godmother of modern food writing who lived in the Bay area for part of her life (like me!), loved the world of food and writing about it (like me!), and was the last editor of the iconic Gourmet Magazine before it closed down (one day!).
The fact is, while there are millions of food writers today in the world, it is difficult to find good examples of food writing career paths for people just starting in the field. Especially just ten years ago, when I was first starting. I immersed myself in the world of Ruth Reichl’s stories of a life filled with food, each accompanied by a recipe from that time. I literally and figuratively ate it up!
More story, food porn and the recipe after the jump!
When I first moved to the Bay area, I drove up and down the street Ruth supposedly lived on after college, imagining what life in 1970s was like for a burgeoning food writer. She writes about it in her book, Comfort Me with Apples. She was living in a giant hippie commune, and just happened to run in to future culinary geniuses, like Alice Waters, Wolfgang Puck, you know, the typical life of a food writer!
This particular recipe always stuck out to me because of it’s simplicity. Just mushrooms, onions, stock, half and half, flour and butter. With so few ingredients, you just knew this recipe had to do a lot with them to make it amazing. And it did!
The main flavor is deliciously caramelized onions.
Browning the mushrooms gives the soup a really meaty flavor that surprised me. I was never a huge mushroom fan, but this soup won me over! I preferred smaller chunks of mushroom, so instead of slicing like Ruth does, I small diced my shrooms.
A little flour, a little stock (any kind, meat or veg, I used chicken), and we’re almost done!
A little half and half, and boom. You have a kick-ass soup. Even better—reduce the mixture after you add the stock, add a bit less half n half, and boom—a delicious mushroom gravy that tastes great with fried over easy eggs with toast.
But I like eating it best with a nice grilled cheese sandwich, maybe spread with my caramelized onion jam. Hot damn.
Make this now, if you’re smart! Here, let me help you out.
: Ruth Reichl’s Mushroom Soup
- 1/2 pound of mushrooms, small diced
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup stock (chicken, beef or veg)
- 2 cups half and half
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- Melt the butter in a heavy, best quality pan you have. Add the onions and saute slowly until browned. Add the mushrooms and saute slowly until browned.
- Sprinkle on flour, then slowly stir in the stock. Heat the half and half on the stove or in the microwave until just under boiling. Add it to the soup mixture, with the bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not let the mixture come to a boil, it is bad for dairy products.
- Remove bay leaf before serving.
Number of servings (yield): 4