The Local Food Report: mushroom soup

I have two recipes for you today. Both are from Ruth Reichl, and both are very simple. For those of you who don't know, Reichl is Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet, and former restaurant critic for the New York Times. I had the privilege of speaking with her in November, and the first of two interviews came out on the radio today.

Reichl has claimed in several interviews to be a cook, not a chef, and says that's why she keeps her recipes easy. Regardless of why, they are truly very simple to make. She may not be a chef, but she is a wonderful cook. Happy New Year to all of you, and enjoy.

from Comfort me with Apples, by Ruth Reichl

Serves 4

1/2 pound mushrooms
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
2 cups half-and-half
salt, pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 bay leaf

Thinly slice the mushrooms.

Melt the butter in a heavy sauté pan. When the foam subsides, add the onion and sauté until golden. Add the mushrooms and sauté until brown.

Stir in the flour, and then slowly add the broth, stirring constantly.

Heat the half-and-half in a suacepan or in the microwave. Add it to the mushrooms, along with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bay leaf. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes; do not boil.

Remove the bay leaf and serve.

*I used dried black trumpets from Oyster Creek Mushroom Co. in Maine, pictured above, which I rehydrated for use in the soup.

from Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl

Serves 4

1 farm raised chicken, about 3 and 1/2 pounds
1 lemon
Olive oil
3 or 4 smallish Yukon potatoes (or any other variety except russet), each peeled and cut into 8 pieces
1 large onion, cut into 6 pieces
3 or 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the chicken under running water and pat it dry. Remove and reserve the extra fat from the inside of the chicken. Very gently run your fingers between the breast and the skin, beginning from the neck end, loosening the skin from the breast on both sides. Being careful not to puncture the skin, place the excess fat beneath the skin (the chicken will then baste itself).

Puncture the lemon a few times with a fork, and place it inside the chicken.

Pour enough olive oil into a roasting pan to make a thin film over the bottom. Toss the potatoes, onion, and garlic into the pan and turn until they are covered with olive oil.

If you have a rack, put the chicken on it, breast side up, and place it in the roasting pan (you may have to jiggle things a little to fit it over the potatoes and onions). If you don't, just put the chicken right into the pan. Pour a little olive oil over the chicken, and salt and pepper everything in the pan.

Roast for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh reads 170 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.

Carve the chicken into serving pieces, surround them with the potatoes, onions, and garlic, and squeeze the lemon over the top.


Unknown said...

What a great idea to put extra fat under skin on the breast! I always wonder what to do with that fat. Also I hate when the chicken breast comes out dry. Self-basting chicken rocks!!! Thanks! The recipe sounds absolutely delicious - will definitely make it next week.

Elspeth said...


It is definitely very thrifty, and very smart. And, it tastes good! Now if only it could be self-carving...

All the best,


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