Back in the Kitchen

May 30 – June 5, 2022

Monday:                   Wedge Salad with eggs and Russian Dressing and                                Roasted tomato toasts with Labneh

Tuesday:                   Spring Green Spaghetti Carbonara

Wednesday:            Chicken Pot-Pie Soup

Friday:                       Seared Salmon with Red Pepper Aioli with Rainbow Chard and Rice Pilaf

Monday:                   Skirt Steak Tacos

Wednesday:            Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Back in the Kitchen

You may notice that the recipes above come from the last two weeks, not the last one.*  We have taken some time off and we have not taken many pictures.  But we have continued cooking lots of things from the various Ina Garten  cookbooks that we own.  Here’s the thing about Ina:  while it is true that Ina isn’t a Michelin-star chef, like Jose Andres, or Daniel Boulud, or Rene Redzepi, her recipes are reliably wonderful and easy to cook, her personality is incredibly pleasant, the relationship between Ina and Jeffrey, her husband, accomplished in his own right (former Dean of the Yale Business School) is, at least on TV, idyllic, and her house and garden in the Hamptons are on beyond enviable.

You may even recall that Ina and I could have become close friends were it not for the restraining hands of my embarrassed family when we were dining at the table next to Ina and Jeffrey one night.  (At Blue Hill at Stone Barns).

We’ve cooked a ton of her food in the last few weeks, a spectacular Spring Greens Spaghetti Carbonara, Seared Salmon with Red Pepper Aioli and Sautéed Rainbow Chard and, above all a simple, but addictive Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup which we ate with warmed slices of soda bread larded with cheddar and chives.

We may get around to the other recipes, but this week we’re going to share the soup, in part because my last recipe for pasta carbonara (posted under the title “if bacon grew on trees, I’d be a vegetarian”) was, as my friend Jan implied in a recent e-mail, a bridge beyond our digestive abilities.  Jan’s e-mail read:  “ah, those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.” I can’t speak for Jan, but I have reduced my bacon intake to 7 or fewer rashers per week.  My advice on healthy eating is available for a subscription fee of just $12.00 per month – less than most of you spend on sushi or avocados.

*Although I do wonder if you even noticed – this question is purely rhetorical –  please don’t respond. I find it more comfortable to live with my illusions.

Note:  Below the recipe you will find a picture of Arlo, the American Kennel Club’s reigning champion fielder of tennis balls


(adapted from Ina Garten)

Timing:                                               110 minutes

(Note:  You’ll be creating a mushroom stock – about 1 hour.  If you start to sauté the vegetables and mushrooms for the soup about 30 minutes in, the recipe will take 90 minutes.  It’s less complicated to cook the broth (1 hour) and then cook the soup (50 minutes).  This will take 110 minutes.)

Ingredients:                                         Serves 4

5 ounces each of fresh shiitake, portobello and cremini mushrooms (or just use cremini and shiitake)

1 tablespoon good olive oil

¼ lb. (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon of butter, divided

1 cup of chopped yellow onion

1 carrot, chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon of minced thyme leaves

2 cups of chopped leeks (2 leeks both white and green parts)

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup minced flat-leaf parsley


Clean mushrooms with paper towels (do not wash)

Separate and coarsely chop the stems.

Slice the mushroom caps ¼ “ thick and cut any large pieces into bite-size.

Mince the parsley

Make the Stock:

In a large pot or dutch oven, over medium, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion and carrot, the sprig of thyme and 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add 6 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have 4 and ½ cups of stock – add water if you have less.

Cook the Soup:

You can start this while the stock is simmering.

In another large pot, heat the remaining stick of butter over low and add the leeks and cook for about 17 minutes, until they are browned and tender.  Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes (they should be browned and tender as well).

Now add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring.  Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Now add the mushroom stock, the minced thyme leaves, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Now add the half-and-half and heavy cream and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and heat through – DO NOT BOIL

Serve Hot – we served with soda bread into the batter of which we had stirred shredded cheddar and chives.  This is a seriously wonderful soup.

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