Hi. My name is Lana and I’m a cookbook junkie. And here’s the thing…I have no intention whatsoever of giving up this habit! Do I have way too many cookbooks? Yeah, probably. Last time I counted I had about 350 or so. What? That’s excessive? Oh.
But I enjoy them so much. I read them like some people read novels. Back to front. There’s almost always a cookbook on the table by my spot in the family room. Sometimes two or three. There are also a few special ones on my Christmas wish list every year. And Santa always comes through!
One of my most favorite gifts this year was a copy of Darina Allen’s book Irish Traditional Cooking. If you’re not familiar with Darina Allen, she’s the founder of the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. She started the school in 1983 and it’s still going strong today. She’s one of the best known Irish food ambassadors and has won more awards for her work than I can begin to recount here.
I have to confess that I have already read this book all the way through twice since Christmas. It’s just fascinating! Not only does it contain hundreds of traditional Irish recipes, it also gives the background of most of them explaining where they are or were most popular and the source from which she acquired the original recipe.
As I was reading through the book, I was struck by the similarities between some of the oldest recipes, their ingredients and preparation methods, and some of the old recipes and ways of cooking, growing, and using food that I remember from my country childhood. She explains how people used to use every bit of food, wasting nothing…not even the bread crumbs.
The chapter on offal was particularly interesting. I remember when people’s tables were much more varied than they are today. I can well remember people using the hog’s head to make souse (hog’s head cheese) and I have vague memories of the older family members enjoying delicacies such as tripe, kidneys, and tongue.
As I read, I kept thinking about how “sterile” our food is now. How people don’t understand the source of food products and hardly know one ingredient from another. I’m sure I could find some souse, tripe, and tongue if I really wanted it, but I’d have to take a whole weekend and a tank full of gas to track them down, I’d bet.
But what this book makes me want to do more than anything is to get into the kitchen and cook! Recipes with names like Beggarman’s Stew, Fadge, and Mr. Guiness’ Cake just get me all excited and I can hardly decide which one to cook first! In the end, I started with something very simple and, as it turned out, very delicious.
This is my adaptation of Darina Allen’s Field Mushroom Soup. Her recipe calls for a pound of field mushrooms but since I don’t have access to field mushrooms, I chose to substitute cremini. And where her recipe requires that the mushrooms be finely diced, I chose to slice mine instead. I was surprised at how delicately light, yet at the same time substantial and filling, this soup is. BeeBop gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up as well. My proportions would make generous servings for two people or enough for four as a starter before dinner.An adaptation of the Field Mushroom Soup recipe from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen, containing mushrooms, onions, milk, and cream. Click To Tweet
How to Make Mushroom Soup
Start by preparing your mushrooms and onion. Very briefly wash the mushrooms and pat them dry. Slice them fairly thinly. Finely chop the onion.
Place a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook until they are soft and cooked through. Take care not to allow the onions to brown.Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stirring constantly, gradually add the stock and milk to the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture just barely to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, taste for seasoning and add a dash or two of cream if desired.
Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
- 2 tblsp. butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 1/2 tblsp. flour
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- Dash of cream, optional
- Fresh parsley, optional
- Place a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions and cook until they are soft and cooked through. Take care not to allow the onions to brown.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stirring constantly, gradually add the stock and milk to the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture just barely to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, taste for seasoning and add a dash or two of cream if desired.
- Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
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This recipe is only slightly adapted from "Irish Traditional Cooking" by Darina Allen.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 309 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 24mg Sodium: 344mg Carbohydrates: 47g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 3g Protein: 11g