It's supposed to be summer, but today's rain and chilly weather would have most of us think otherwise. As a general lover of heat and with only a few precious days of holiday left, I would have preferred a scorcher. All that said, the garden has benefited enormously from the rain; the runner beans are swelling by the day, the tomatoes are proliferating and the lettuces have perked up endlessly since the rain.
As much as I love hot summers (oh the berry fruit!) we were reminded of one of the great joys of cooler weather: Soup. We were treated to a delicious Pumpkin Soup lunch made by our very culinarily capable friend Ben. After such a delicious change of fare, and feeling a little pinched for time, I got inspired to make another round of soup for tea: yes, it's been that cold. After a quick recon in the fridge, Mushrooms seemed the most logical base. Hmmm.. Add that great standby of the last minute meal - bacon, and dinner wont be far away.
Bacon and Mushroom Soup
Approx. 9 or 10 brown flat mushrooms - cut into cubes - about 3 or 4 cups full
5 rashers of streaky bacon - sliced into small strips
2 cloves garlic - crushed
2-3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons plain flour
approx 5 cups chicken stock or water or water with stock concentrate added - heated
50 ml cream
a splash of sherry - optional, port will also do the trick
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan and cook the mushrooms until they have melted into a black mass and released all their water. Transfer them to another bowl.
Add the remaining oil to the pan - no need to wash the pan first - fry the bacon and garlic until the bacon is quite crisp.
Add the flour and stir: the mixture with froth up; don't let it colour or burn.
Add the heated stock liquid to the pan in thirds, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming until the soup boils.
Return the mushrooms to the pan, add the sherry, and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes.
Take the soup from the stove, add the cream, and blend until smooth. Return the pan to the heat. Add more water or stock if the soup is too thick. Check for seasoning - with all the bacon it will probably only require pepper. Heat sufficiently for serving, but don't let it boil once the cream has been added.
Serve with buttered toast for a quick, simple and tasty meal.