Vegetarianism is rough. Not only do we have to deal with incessant ethical concerns such as inadvertently eating tardigrades (thanks a lot for that, Mary Ellen), but we also have to deal with food that is sometimes… substandard. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic veggie dishes out there, but more often than not, vegetarian food can be rather lackluster.
Here’s an example: I was recently privy to an extremely important work conversation, the topic of which was lunch. My coworkers were discussing an amazing potato soup from the market across the street from our office. Someone offered to get me some, and I hesitated. It was potato soup, but I just knew something was amiss. They were raving about this soup, and that just doesn’t tend to happen when people talk about vegetarian food. I asked my gallant coworker who was venturing out into soup-land to check out the ingredient list for me. There was bacon in it. Motherfucking bacon.
Anyway, the whole sad lunch left me longing for the best soup I have ever had in my life. It was Hungarian Mushroom Soup from a wonderful restaurant in Portland. The restaurant was called Old Wives Tale, and when google told me that they closed (in 2014), I almost cried. Not that I have been there in like a decade, but sometimes it hurts to know you can’t go back. (I feel like there’s a song I should reference here, but I can’t think of what it is)
So I started on a quest to figure out if it was possible to recreate their soup and I learned that it was loosely based on the Moosewood recipe (page 14 of the original cookbook, if anyone else is like me and buys really old used vegetarian cookbooks).
It calls for 1 cup of whole milk. Given my lactose impairment, I opted to use coconut milk, which worked well. If I’m being 100% honest, I recommend that people with working digestive systems use whole milk. But if your relationship like dairy is similar to mine, you’ll be too busy crying with joy to notice the slight coconut taste (try not to get too many tears in your soup, you don’t want to water it down).
In my recipe research, I also noticed that most people who post this recipe mention that it is not “low fat.” I’m not sure what tipped them off about that (the half stick of butter, perhaps). Anyway, if you care more about being skinny than you do about eating food that tastes amazing, move along, there’s nothing to see here. If you’re like me and either eat food in “moderation” or just buy bigger pants when you need to, this is the best soup you’ll ever have. I licked the bowl. Then I licked the ladle. Then I refilled my bowl with little bit more soup because that doesn’t count as another bowl. I considered bathing in it. Probably will next time.
Recipe adapted from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
Makes 3-4 good sized bowls of soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: About 30-45 minutes
¾ lb mushrooms, sliced into bite size pieces
½ to 1 leek, chopped thinly with dark green parts removed
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
1 teaspoon dill
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon tamari (I used coconut aminos)
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
2 cups veggie broth (I used my Potato Peel Broth with fantastic results)
Juice of ½ a lemon
Ground pepper to taste
½ cup sour cream (I omitted this, and did not miss it)
Fresh parsley (you’ll use this to garnish, but actually do it, it brings the flavor to amazeballs level)
Sauté the leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter for a few minutes. Then add salt, mushrooms, paprika, dill, coconut aminos, and about ½ cup of broth. Bring to a low simmer. Cover and continue simmering for about 15 minutes.
Melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot (I made it work with my 2.5 quart pot). Whisk in flour, then add milk. Cook for a few minutes to thicken, stirring often.
Add the mushroom mixture and the rest of the broth to large pot, stir, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Add the lemon juice, ground pepper, and more salt to taste. If you’re using sour cream, add it in here. Serve immediately, and garnish with fresh parsley. If it’s not too hot, just dunk your face in the soup. If it hasn’t cooled much, you may want to use a spoon.