Behold the cow! Not only does this lowly animal provide us with beef for our tables, a most valuable source of protein, but dairy cattle the world over are the suppliers of perhaps one of the only products that, alone, can sustain life for long periods of time – milk, in its various forms, and cream.
Whenever I make cream soups, I never thicken them with flour, always with cream. If you are counting calories, use cereal cream instead of heavy cream. But if you figure 800 to 1,000 calories per cup of heavy cream and divide this by six servings, the calories intake is not so great.
For those of you who are calorie counting, use my recipes for those special occasions when you prepare a treat for yourself, or for when you are entertaining.
I always bake and cook, with sweet butter, rarely lard (only for certain requirements), and never with margarine, although for certain recipes I do use corn oil. Contrary to all the hype about corn and its mismanagement, Mazola Corn Oil is cholesterol free and due to its high heat capacity, is still an excellent oil to use for deep frying. I use it exclusively when deep frying. There are plenty of negative discussions about Canola Oil and personally I have never used it. I just didn’t have a good feeling about it, right from the beginning.
There are times when margarine will substitute for butter in some folks’ kitchens, but I was so turned off by the initial wartime version of the margarine, when orange food colouring was added to make it look like butter, that I never got past that. It was never used in my home growing up. I was a war baby and recall my mother trading her butter ration coupons with friends and neighbours to be able to bake and cook with real butter. We even had butter on baked potatoes.
She gave up other ration coupons – things she didn’t use because butter was so important. If you prefer to use an alternative, or if you are calorie counting or budget watching, alternatives are applicable to nearly every general recipe, but do bear in mind that substitutes are substitutes, and a recipe that you enjoyed at a friend’s house will not taste the same when you make it if you use substitutes in the recipe.
I recently read an article where an economist advocated replacing cream in soup with milk and then proceeded to say if the soup was not creamy enough, to add butter. False economy both dollar-wise and calorie-wise.
Just use the cream. The soup will go just as far and taste so much better. The money some people enjoy spending eating out regularly, I would rather spend in my own kitchen and I feel we eat better for less this way. And more importantly, I know what is in the food, to a greater degree.
Yes, it takes time, but time spent preparing meals is the ultimate multi-tasking opportunity. You can watch television, read your favourite magazine, clean the fridge, knit or crochet – all while you are in the kitchen. This time each day or even a couple of times a week is an ideal family time, teaching children how the kitchen works. Meal prep time is also an opportunity for bonding between mates, even if the mate doesn’t cook. Help with clean up counts big time.
These recipes are my own concoctions and are so simple and so delightful that you’ll enjoy making (and eating) them regularly. If you enjoy cream soups in the upcoming cold, wet weather days ahead, yes, you can freeze them. But freeze the base, prior to adding the cream. Take it out of the freezer the day before you plan to eat it and let it thaw in the fridge, ideally. Scald the cream, and let it rise and fall three times. Never take your eyes off it. Never leave the stove. And certainly, never leave the room. Scalding overflow makes a terrible stinky mess.
Let the cream settle and gently fold in your soup base, using a wooden spoon. If the base is lumpy, gently whisk away the lumps. Do not beat the mixture. Return to soft heat and stir until ready to serve. It shouldn’t separate if done properly. Reheating is possible once the cream is enveloped with the base, but only very carefully because it will burn. Perhaps use a double boiler if necessary to reheat, or holding temperature to serve if required.
Tomato Mushroom Bisque
Sauté six large red tomatoes from your garden. Mash with a potato masher. Or, sauté one large tin of whole tomatoes in hot butter until liquid is reduced by a third. Add a generous pinch of thyme and parsley along with a sprinkle of ground oregano. Salt and pepper. Turn it into a heavy soup pot.
In same skillet, sauté in plenty of bubbly hot butter and one lb. of button mushrooms, quartered. Only sauté the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, on very high heat. Do not salt. Sprinkle a little pepper and dried thyme. Add to the tomatoes.
Stir three cups of homemade chicken stock into the soup pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce by one third. Deglaze the skillet with a few tablespoons of any kind of wine or brandy and add to the soup.
Cover and let it stand until ready to serve. Reheat but do not boil.
Add two cups of hot, light, scalded (cereal) cream and stir. Makes six generous servings.
As an alternative, pulse this soup with a handheld blender, leaving it lumpy in texture. Serve in a rustic bowl, with really crunchy croutons on top, when bringing to the table and add a dollop of sour cream as a special treat. Drizzle the sour cream with real maple syrup. Do not stir.
Now for a really different soup, use fresh green tomatoes from your garden. Sprinkle with crunchy, fresh, homemade bacon bits. Just before serving grate some real Parmesan cheese over the green tomato mushroom bisque. Genuine yum!
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I thought some of you might find this YouTube video interesting – I’m old enough to remember much of this – yes, there was rationing here in Canada, too, although not as restricted, but still “the law.”
The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen” additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.