It always takes a while for Fall to make its appearance here in Northern California. We are already almost a month in, and you can finally feel the coolness that Fall brings as the sun sets here in the Napa Valley. This will be my first Fall experience in this beautiful remote part of the world, where soon, we will be able to take a drive and see the gorgeous colors as the vineyards begin to turn gold, yellow & orange. This is the time that the vines begin their slow assent into slumber to ready themselves for a new season in the Spring.
With the onset of Fall, this brings about changes in our menus as the colder nights bring a much-needed warmth to the body. Homemade soup has always been a part of those menu changes, one my husband Kevin always looks forward to.
I learned how to make soup from my father, Jozef. It really wasn’t until he retired (and I was already married) that he started to make soup. My first attempt at soup was his homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. As a 20something, skinning and washing a full chicken was always my least favorite part of it, but later in life, you learn that its just a part of creating a meal for your family.
My father, the youngest of 11 children, was born and raised in Holland. During World War II, his mother would make soup with usually whatever was available. Chicken soup was probably a treat, as during the war, meat wasn’t easy to come by. I remember him telling my siblings and I, how when the pot made its way to him, there usually wasn’t much left except broth and maybe some noodles. It wasn’t about providing for the youngest first, but the opposite. Obviously, he made it through those lean times to venture to Canada, where he met my mother and then eventually, they made their way to America, to live their version of the American dream.
Back to skinning the chicken. Once in the pot of water, I would just add the usual carrots, onions, and spices, letting it simmer on the stove for hours. Once cooked, it was time to remove the chicken for deboning and returning to the pot along with noodles to finish off the dish. It was always SO good but ultimately a chicken bone would always be found in a bowl.
This year, as the coolness of the Fall was in the air, I decided I wanted to make Cream of Mushroom soup. I have made this recipe before and was astonished at how easy it is to make and how much more delicious it is than the canned variety.
This recipe calls for ½ a cup of dry red wine, so I thought I would make it with our Morning Glass Red Blend to test it out. I wasn’t disappointed. The earthiness of the mushrooms pairs perfectly with the dried fruit and spices of the wine. Morning Glass is a lighter style red, so it doesn’t compete with the creaminess of the soup. A little story about our Morning Glass Red Blend: Every year from 2003 to 2013 our family would spend a week at Lake San Antonio in southern Monterey County in California. We would cram together in tight quarters in a modular home, spend the days on the lake water skiing, and the nights on the deck mostly laughing and having the best of times. One tradition that stood out was the 6:30 am morning ski run. The lake was quiet, undisturbed and smooth as glass, which is where we derived the name Morning Glass. Diving into a cold lake that early in the morning is a soul cleansing experience, and this wine is an homage to our eleven years at Lake San Antonio.
You can make this soup in less than an hour, so don’t think that you must leave it for a weekend to try. It’s time to dig out those Dutch ovens and get the soup on the stove!
Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 each onions, diced
- 4 each garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 lbs fresh brown mushrooms, sliced
- 4 tsp chopped thyme, divided
- 1/2 cup Morning Glass red wine
- 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth or stock
- 1-2 tsp salt, adjust to taste
- 1/2 – 1 tsp black cracked pepper, adjust to taste
- 2 each beef bouillon cubes, crumbled
- 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
- chopped parsley and thyme to serve
- Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until melted. Sauté onion for 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add mushrooms and 2 tsp thyme and cook for 5minutes. Pour in wine and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
- Sprinkle mushrooms with flour, mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock, mix again, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium heat, season with salt, pepper, and crumbled bouillon cubes.
- Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until thickened.
- Reduce heat to low, stir in cream or half and half. Allow to gently simmer (do not boil). Adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
- Mix in parsley and remaining thyme. Serve warm with a glass of Morning Glass Red Blend wine and a crusty piece of sour dough bread.