I love soup! Any kind of soup will do. I also love fire! Any kind of fire will do too. Mushroom soup made easy is definitely something you should try. Growing up in the 80’s in East London South Africa we had 2 fine dining restaurants that my parents would take us to on special occasions. Mövenpick (later changed it’s name to Ernst’s Chalet Suisse) owned by Ernst Steidel was located on the Orient Beach overlooking the magnificent ocean and the swimming pools. This was the first date I went on with Brian. He invited my parents to dinner and said “oh, by the way, you might as well bring Jacque along too”. So my first “date” with Brian was chaperoned by my parents. I had no idea what to order as the menu was extensive and most of the descriptions were in French. Brian ordered for me. He ordered the hors d’oeuvre variés, which to me sounded like a horse’s ovaries!!!!! You see what I mean. I was 17 at the time, I had no idea what any of this stuff meant. The other restaurant was Le Petit owned by Paul and Christine Stiffler. Both of these amazing restaurants had a huge influence on me and what I interpreted to be fine dining. They were sophisticated and elegant. They were of an international standard that made me proud to frequent them on the rare occasions that we did. They were reserved for special birthdays and they were an absolute treat to visit.
This was where I experienced flambé’ing
for the first time. I may have been about 15 years old. We were at Le Petit and I ordered the fillet steak with green peppercorn sauce. A waitress arrived at our table with a flambé trolley, which is a trolley complete with a gas cooker and a serving area. There were little glass dishes filled with various ingredients all lined up on the trolley, as well as my hunk of fillet. It was perfectly seared and ready for the next step. Of course I had no idea what was about to happen. I wanted to appear sophisticated and act like I belong here so I had to observe the process rather than ask a hundred questions and reveal my ignorance.
Of course, when the butter sizzled in the pan and the steak was added, the aromas filled the air as everyone in the restaurant looked on. Then the magic happened! A brown liquid was poured over the fillet, the pan was deftly and expertly tilted to just the right angle over the gas flame and the whole thing ignited into the most spectacular colours of yellows and oranges I had ever seen. My food was on fire and no one around me was panicking. The awe on my face was impossible to hide and the wow’s and ahh’s escaped my lips in complete wonder. From that moment on I was utterly intrigued with this technique. It would take me years later to actually try it myself, always a little fearful I may just set myself on fire.
These day’s I try it whenever I get the opportunity. Mushrooms are a firm favourite of mine and they pair very well with brandy in a true 80’s French style. I use this technique for my mushroom and green peppercorn sauce . Woolies run a special on mushrooms from time to time. I do love a special offer! This mushroom soup is very quick to make because I used the powdered chicken stock. The real deal is better, but when I’m pressed for time this works just as well.
- 2 Tbls olive oil
- 85g spring onion finely chopped
- 10g chopped garlic
- 500g portabellini mushrooms sliced
- 1 Tbls brandy (optional) the whole point of this recipe is the flambé though
- 1½Tbls chicken stock powder use vegetable stock for vegetarian option
- 500 ml Cream
- 750ml water you can use full cream milk as well
- Salt and pepper
- 20g flat leaf parsley
- cream and olive oil to garnish
- Slice mushrooms
- Add the olive oil to a large saucepan. Fry the spring onion for 2 minutes
- Add the mushrooms and fry for 3 minutes then stir
- continue to cook mushrooms stiring every 3 minutes
- you want the mushrooms to brown and get a good colour on them as this intensifies their flavours. this should take about 12 minutes in total
- Flambé WARNING: Alcohol is highly flamable. Turn off the gas stove. Do NOT pour the brandy straight from the bottle into the pan. Pour the desired quantity into a separate spoon. Have your matches or lighter ready Now proceed with caution. Keep a pot lid at the ready in case you want to douse the flame.
- Add 1 Tbls of brandy to the pan and light the liquid.
- This is the size of the flame from 1 Tbls. Its big but not out of control. The flame will go out when most of the alcohol has evaporated. cook for a further 2 minutes to continue with the evaporation process. This takes away the bitter alcohol flavour and leaves a sweeter brandy flavour infused in the mushrooms.
- Add the stock powder and stir into mushrooms to coat them. This will thicken slightly
- Now add the cream and water and cook to thicken and heat through for about 3 minutes
- Add the chopped parsley
- This will be the consistency. You can serve the soup like this or you can blend it
- Insert a stick blender and blitz for about 2 minutes. If you really want to be fancy you can use a chinois sieve to strain the soup for a smoother, finer consistency. I didn't!
- Ladle into soup bowls and drizzle cream and olive oil over. Serve with crusty homemade bread
- Enjoy with a nice glass of chardonnay and a good book in front of a crackling fire