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~ Rich & Creamy Mushroom & Baked Potato Soup ~

IMG_2495If you are a mushroom lover, this rich, creamy and hearty version of mushroom soup is comfort food for a cold day.  A big bowl along with a slice of warm bread with a slather of sweet cream butter is a delicious dinner.  A small bowl with a crouton floating on top is a sumptuous start to a delicious dinner or a lovely lunch.   My recipe is a spin-off from an Eastern European recipe that many refer to as "Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup".  I can't use that title.  Similar versions of this humble, rustic, peasant soup appear in cold-weather countries all over Eastern Europe.

IMG_2494My version of this soup differs from traditional versions...

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0d14434970cA bit about my version of the recipe~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup ~ is a staple in my freezer.  Just click on the Related Article link below to get the recipe.  "Shiitake mushrooms", you exclaim, "what are Asian mushrooms doing in an Eastern European recipe?"  Simmer down.  

I'm Eastern European, more specifically of Russian heritage.  I grew up in Central PA,  "hunting 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c747eacb970b'schrooms" with my dad, in the forest across the street from our house.  It was full of golden-colored mushrooms which grew wild amongst the leaves in and around fallen oak trees.  My dad called them "popinky" (poh-pinky).  

We Eastern Europeans know a thing or two about mushrooms, so, when we tell you Shiitakes are the closest to one or two of our 'heritage mushrooms', rely upon it.  Originally from Japan and Korea, the Shiitake (shee-TAH-kay), when cultivated in IMG_2349the USA (California, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Virginia) is referred to as "The Golden Oak".

The beef-stock based mushroom soup I make is  fully-loaded with sauteed Shiitakes and onions. Mushrooms and onions go hand-in-hand together in the Eastern European kitchen.  Because my mushroom soup is so wonderful, and, because cream soups do not freeze well, I make ~ Rich & Creamy Mushroom and Baked Potato Soup ~, from leftovers, or frozen ~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup ~.

... other recipes set out to make Cream of Mushroom and Potato Soup.  Mine is made from my homemade mushroom soup -- either leftover the next day or from a container or two which I have on hand in my freezer.

IMG_2375I always make a big batch of my mushroom soup so I can freeze it.  I use 2-quart, Pyrex containers.  I love freezing in glass because it absorbs no odors, doesn't stain, and, once the investment is made, these containers last forever.  

In case you don't know:  when you freeze liquid in any container, you must allow for "headspace", at the top of each container, because liquids expand when they freeze. The reality is, this is not 2-quarts of thawed soup you're looking at, it is 6-cups, or 1 1/2 quarts.

IMG_23776  cups  my recipe for ~ Decadent & Divine Silky Shiitake Mushroom Soup ~, at room temperature

2 large, 12-14-ounce Russet potatoes, baked in the oven or in the microwave, soft centers scooped out and rough-smashed with a fork (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for garnish

IMG_2406 IMG_2396~ Step 1. Bake or microwave the potatoes. When done and cool enough to handle with your hands, slice them in half.  Using a tablespoon, scoop out the soft centers, allowing them to remain in large chunks.  Using a fork (I use a vintage pasta fork) smash into smaller chunks.  Two large potatoes will yield about 3 cups.

IMG_2382 IMG_2418 IMG_2449~ Steps 2, 3 & 4.  Place soup in 4-quart saucepan. Stir in potatoes.  Over medium heat, warm until steaming. Stir in cream. Warm until steaming.

They say "necessity is the mother of invention".  That's valid.

IMG_2438Economically, this is called "stretching a meal" to feed more people.

Realistically, this is so good, avoid looking at it from that perspective!

IMG_2476Rich & Creamy Mushroom & Baked Potato Soup:  Recipe yields a generous 2 quarts/about 9 cups.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; tablespoon; fork; 4-quart stockpot; large spoon; soup ladle

6a0120a8551282970b019aff34a6a5970cCook's Note:  Some soups, especially steaming hot and hearty chunky potato soups, just taste better in the Winter.  For another one of my hearty favorites, you can find ~ Bake Potato, Roasted Garlic & Cheddar Soup ~ in Categories 2, 11 or 22.  Bacon anyone?

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 


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