Winter Warmers: Soup

Before coming to York I had been warned by Brits that it would be quite cold. Naturally, coming from Sweden, I scoffed at such warnings and decided not to pack a duvet, since I figured it wouldn’t be cold enough for me to need one anyway. Needless to say, on my second day here, I bought the thickest duvet I could find, as well as gloves and a proper pullover – things I had also neglected to bring.

In this edition I am going to bring out the heavy artillery when it comes to dealing with cold weather: soup. Let’s start out with some croutons, though.

Garlic and Oregano Croutons
(Serves 4)

1 garlic clove
25 g butter
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 slices of bread

1. Set the oven to 150 degrees.

2. Put the butter in a cup or a small bowl, and microwave for 10 seconds. Use a garlic press if you have one. If not, chop the garlic finely and add it to the cup along with the oregano. Mix. To peel garlic quickly and easily, give each clove a good smash with the flat of your knife before peeling.

2. Butter the bread and put it butter side down in an oven pan. Butter the other size as well. No one likes soggy croutons; so don’t go too heavy on the butter!

3. Put the pan in the oven and give the bread about 5 minutes on each side, or however long it takes to give it a bit of colour.

4. Take the pan out and wait. Let the bread cool down to room temperature, then chop it into cubes, and leave the cubes out for at least an hour. It’s a good idea to put the cubes in a strainer and shake off the worst of the crumbs.

5. Serve whenever you please. The croutons will stay good for at least a week if you put them in a bowl with no lid and store at room temperature.

Mushroom Soup
(Serves 2)

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
200 g mushrooms (6-8 normal-sized ones)
250 ml half cream
250 ml milk
1 cube vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of thyme
Pepper
Soy sauce
Butter

1. Chop the garlic finely.

2. Get the worst dirt off the mushrooms with a brush, a sponge or, failing all else, your hands. Don’t rinse them, as they will absorb the water. Slice thinly.

3. Time for the onion. The fastest way to peel it is to first chop off the very tip of it, and then slice the entire onion in half. You should now be able to peel off the brown layers fairly easily. Cut each half once down the middle, and then slice thinly.

4. Put a bit of butter in a pot and turn it up to medium heat. Wait until the butter has stopped sizzling, and add garlic, onion and mushrooms. Stir frequently. The mushrooms will absorb the butter fairly quickly, but as long as you have a non-stick pot this isn’t really a problem.

5. Once the mushrooms have started to darken a bit in colour, add the half cream, the vegetable stock, and thyme. Turn the heat down slightly. Use the empty cream container to measure up the same amount of milk and pour that in as well.

6. Let it boil for about ten minutes. While you do this, add just a few drops of soy sauce. You’re going for a light brown colour, so you should need no more than three or four drops. It’s very, very easy to go overboard with the soy sauce.

7. Taste the soup. The stock and the soy sauce are both quite salty, so avoid that reflexive grasp for the saltshaker. Serve with croutons sprinkled on top.

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