Marcia’s Curried Mushroom Soup

For part of my life, I could claim to be a “California Girl.” Having lived in California for about 8 years, I got to experience wonderful weather and fresh local produce all year round. One of my favorite foods that took advantage of all the fresh local California produce was Marcia’s Curried Mushroom Soup.

Marcia's Curried Fresh Mushroom Soup garnished with Lemon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia’s Curried Fresh Mushroom Soup garnished with Lemon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia Pelser is a neighbor who lived around the corner from our house when we lived in California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She threw some great parties for my parents and the other adult neighbors. And Mrs. Pelser used to always include her kids and the neighborhood kids in her festivities. I was fascinated by this giant real bear skin rug complete with the bear’s head and big teeth that the Pelsers had on the floor of their family room. I was pretty convinced that bear would come to life at some point and attack me. It never did happen though.

The Pelser's scary bear skin rug looked a lot like this one (Photo Credit: Taxidermy.net)

The Pelser’s scary bear skin rug looked a lot like this one (Photo Credit: Taxidermy.net)

One of my favorite party goodies that Mrs. Pelser used to serve was her lovely curried mushroom soup. It’s rich and elegant and great for a dinner party. This soup is made with diced mushroom pieces so it’s sippable. Serve in a nice teacup, or in small shot glasses. You could always puree it a bit if you prefer.

Sippable Curried Mushroom Soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sippable Curried Mushroom Soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Most of my favorite recipes from the 1970s were written on index cards. I still have the card with Marcia’s transposed recipe that my Mom wrote up for me.

Marcia's Original Curried Mushroom Soup Recipe Side 1 (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia’s Original Curried Mushroom Soup Recipe Side 1 (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia's Original Curried Mushroom Soup Recipe Side 2 (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia’s Original Curried Mushroom Soup Recipe Side 2 (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

In fact, this is a soup that might have been served by the stylish hostess Betty Draper at one of her Around The World dinner parties on the popular Mad Men television series.

Betty Draper's Around The World Dinner Party on AMC's Mad Men TV series (Photo Credit: AMC)

Betty Draper’s Around The World Dinner Party on AMC’s Mad Men TV series (Photo Credit: AMC)

Now let’s talk about Marcia’s Curried Mushroom Soup recipe. Start by dicing some mushrooms and onions.

Finely diced mushrooms (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Finely diced mushrooms (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Saute the diced mushrooms and onions in butter.

Saute diced mushrooms with diced onions in butter (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Saute diced mushrooms with diced onions in butter (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add flour and curry powder. Cook a few minutes.

Curry Powder adds a deep spice flavor to this soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Curry Powder adds a deep spice flavor to this soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Then add bouillon cubes, coriander powder and milk. Cook and let soup thicken, stirring often. Add lemon juice, lemon peel, and a touch of sherry. Cook for a few minutes.

Let the soup simmer and thicken a bit (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Let the soup simmer and thicken a bit (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Keep soup warm for 30 minutes so the flavors can enhance. Ladle the soup into sipping cups.

Ladle the soup into sipping cups (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Ladle the soup into sipping cups (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Garnish with lemon slices.

Marcia's Curried Mushroom Soup with Lemon in Sipping Cups (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia’s Curried Mushroom Soup with Lemon in Sipping Cups (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Marcia’s Curried Mushroom Soup (adapted)

Ingredients:

4 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb fresh mushrooms, diced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 c flour
2 qts milk
10 chicken bouillon cubes
1/8 t coriander powder
5 T lemon juice
1/2 t grated lemon peel
2 T sherry
lemon slices for garnish

Method:

1. Over medium heat in an 8 qt. stock pot, saute onions and mushrooms in the butter until vegetables have softened.
2. Add the curry and the flour and stir to blend. Cook 3 minutes.
3. Add bouillon cubes and coriander.
4. Cook stirring occasionally.
5. Add milk, stirring until soup thickens.
6. Add lemon juice, grated lemon peel, and sherry.
7. Reduce heat, stir, and simmer for 30 minutes or more to blend flavors.
8. Serve in sipping cups garnished with lemon slices.

Serves 6 – 12 as a sipping appetizer depending on serving size. Can also serve as a soup course per diner which should serve 4 people.

Variations: Use fat free milk instead of whole milk. Substitute chicken stock for the chicken bouillon cubes and reduce the amount of milk. You can also use a thick chicken stock base in place of the bouillon cubes. If you can’t find ground coriander, use a spice grinder to grind some coriander seeds.

Marcia's Curried Mushroom Soup with Lemon Garnish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marcia’s Curried Mushroom Soup with Lemon Garnish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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Chipotle Cream Dressing

Chipotle Cream Dressing is a versatile topping for salads, sandwiches, and especially popular on Tex-Mex foods. This recipe was originally posted with my Cowboy Smokehouse Salad with Pulled Smoked Pork recipe. It’s a rich and zesty salad dressing for taco salads or even a sliced ripe tomato salad. I also use it as a topping on dishes such as fish tacos, chicken enchiladas, and marinated skirt steak fajitas.

Baja Fish Tacos with Lime Cilantro Cucumber Slaw and Sliced Avocado drizzled with Chipotle Cream Dressing (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baja Fish Tacos with Lime Cilantro Cucumber Slaw and Sliced Avocado drizzled with Chipotle Cream Dressing (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

This dressing is a favorite topping for my smoked pork soft tacos and as a dipping sauce for my smoked pork quesadilla with green chiles.

Cowboy Smokehouse Salads with pulled smoked pork, roasted corn, red bell pepper, cilantro, black beans, carrots, Monterey Jack cheese and chipotle cream over mixed greens!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cowboy Smokehouse Salads with pulled smoked pork, roasted corn, red bell pepper, cilantro, black beans, carrots, Monterey Jack cheese and chipotle cream over mixed greens! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Use this dressing instead of sour cream or Mexican crema on Tex Mex foods. Try it on my Tex Mex Tortilla-Pizza and Shredded Buffalo Tacos.

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Chipotle Cream Dressing

Ingredients:

1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 T adobo sauce (from canned chipotles) or you can use chipotle puree
2 T lime juice
1 T packed brown sugar
1 t salt

Method:

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until combined. Thin with more lime juice if you prefer a runnier consistency. Chill until ready for use.

Makes about a cup of dressing. Keeps for a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Variations: Add some chopped smoked chipotle or green jalapeno peppers for more heat. Use fat-free sour cream and mayonnaise. Use 2 teaspoons of agave syrup instead of brown sugar. Add some Tabasco sauce if you like more heat.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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Balsamic Vinegar Syrup

Balsamic Vinegar Syrup is simple to make! I use it often in my favorite Insalata Caprese – Tomato and Mozzarella Salad. Balsamic vinegar syrup is tasty drizzled over strips of Parmesan or Manchego cheeses.

Tomato Mozzarella Basil Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Syrup and Olive Oil accompanies a Grilled Filet Mignon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomato Mozzarella Basil Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Syrup and Olive Oil accompanies a Grilled Filet Mignon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Use an inexpensive balsamic vinegar for this recipe. It will still come out rich and flavorful. We buy our balsamic vinegar in bulk at Costco. You can also find good deals on balsamic vinegar at your local grocery store.

Costco's Kirkland Brand Balsamic Vinegar is a great deal (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Costco’s Kirkland Brand Balsamic Vinegar is a great deal (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

You can use this technique for other types of flavored vinegars in order to get that syrupy consistency. The higher the sugar content in the vinegar, the better your result. I have also used a raspberry-infused balsamic vinegar and a pear-infused balsamic vinegar with delicious results!

Mini mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction and showered with a basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mini mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction and showered with a basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Also, check out my Kitchen Herb Gardens article for tips on growing your own herbs.

Sliced ripe heirloom tomatoes drizzled with balsamic syrup and topped with basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sliced ripe heirloom tomatoes drizzled with balsamic syrup and topped with basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Balsamic Vinegar Syrup

Ingredients:

One bottle of balsamic vinegar.

Method:

Pour an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan over low heat and simmer, stirring often. Let vinegar reduce by about half and thicken slightly.

Vinegar reduction is “done” when it coats the back of a metal spoon. Be careful not to overcook or boil the vinegar reduction or it will caramelize and taste burned.

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month in a sealed squeeze bottle or other container. Use on sliced ripe tomatoes as a rich dressing along with olive oil.

Ripe Tomato Salad with a creamy Burrata cheese ball drizzled with balsamic vinegar syrup and olive oil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Ripe Tomato Salad with a creamy Burrata cheese ball drizzled with balsamic vinegar syrup and olive oil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

If you don’t have a Costco nearby, you can order balsamic vinegar in bulk from Amazon.com in a case of multiple bottles or in a giant jug and have it shipped directly to your door!

If you prefer to buy your own balsamic vinegar syrup, here are some options from Amazon.com:

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad. Wow, that’s a mouthful, and a good one at that. This salad is colorful, fresh, and delicious. Marinated chicken, fresh tomatoes, arugula, mini mozzarella balls, and cucumber mix with orzo pasta for a refreshing chilled salad. Topped with toasted pine nuts, crispy croutons, and fresh basil chiffonade, it’s a simple weeknight main course or a salad course depending on your guests’ appetites. Make it the night before so the flavors can intensify.

Marinated Chicken, Tomato, Mini Mozzarella Balls, and Orzo in a tasty chilled salad. Topped with Toasted Pine Nuts and Crispy Croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marinated Chicken, Tomato, Mini Mozzarella Balls, and Orzo in a tasty chilled salad. Topped with Toasted Pine Nuts and Crispy Croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Start out with two cooked or grilled chicken breasts. Dice the meat into 1/2 inch cubes. Mix together a marinade of honey, canola oil, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir the marinade into the diced chicken until the chicken is well coated. Refrigerate the diced chicken for at least an hour, stirring once in a while so it marinates well. I know you are supposed to marinate the chicken before you cook it. When using diced cooked chicken in a salad, I prefer to marinate the diced chicken AFTER it is cooked so it will absorb more of the marinade flavors.

Colorful Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad before the Croutons, Toasted Pine Nuts and Basil Chiffonade are added (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Colorful Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad before the Croutons, Toasted Pine Nuts and Basil Chiffonade are added (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

While the diced chicken is marinating in the refrigerator, cook some orzo pasta and let it cool. Stir some olive oil into the cooled pasta. Dice some tomatoes, chop some arugula, quarter some mini mozzarella balls and mix into the orzo pasta. Slice some unpeeled cucumber and then slice into thin strips like a chiffonade and mix that into the orzo pasta as well.

Thin slices of cucumber then sliced thinly into strips makes a cucumber chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Thin slices of cucumber then sliced thinly into strips makes a cucumber chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When the diced chicken has marinated for an hour, stir it into the orzo pasta mixture. Refrigerate the orzo pasta salad for at least four hours or overnight.

Chilled marinated diced chicken, chopped tomato and arugula, cucumber, and orzo pasta salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chilled marinated diced chicken, chopped tomato and arugula, cucumber, and orzo pasta salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

To serve the orzo salad, divide some whole arugula leaves amongst four serving plates or bowls as a bed for the orzo. Spoon the orzo salad onto the arugula leaves.

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad ready to plate (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad ready to plate (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top the orzo salad with toasted pine nuts, crispy croutons, and basil chiffonade. And serve!

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

This salad travels well for a packed lunch or picnic. Just stir in the toasted pine nuts and basil chiffonade before chilling the salad. Package the whole arugula leaves and croutons separately in plastic bags and combine everything when ready to eat.

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad -- so good you can taste it! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad — so good you can taste it! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

2 fully cooked chicken breasts, chilled
1 T honey
1/2 c canola oil
2 t Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
1/4 t salt
Dash of cracked black pepper
8 oz orzo pasta
1/4 olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
6 c fresh arugula, divided into 2 c chopped, and 4 c whole leaves
24 mini mozzarella balls, cut into quarters
1/2 English cucumber, unpeeled, cut into thin slices, then into thin chiffonade strips
1/2 c toasted pine nuts
1 c toasted croutons
4 large fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Method:

1. Dice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch cubes.
2. Whisk together the honey, canola oil, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, white balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.
3. Add the marinade to the chicken cubes, mixing and coating the chicken well.
4. Refrigerate the chicken for at least an hour so the marinade soaks into the meat.
5. While the chicken is marinating, cook the orzo pasta according to the package directions.
6. When the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
7. In a non-metallic bowl, mix 1/4 oil into the orzo pasta, stirring until the orzo is coated with the olive oil.
8. Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped arugula, quartered mini mozzarella balls, and cucumber chiffonade to the orzo and stir until combined.
9. After the chicken has marinated for the hour, stir it into the orzo mixture.
10. Chill the orzo salad for at least 4 hours or overnight for the flavors to enhance.
11. When ready to serve, divide the whole arugula leaves amongst 4 serving plates or bowls.
12. Top the arugula leaves with the orzo salad.
13. Top the salads with the pine nuts, croutons, and basil chiffonade. Use my easy crispy crouton recipe.
14. Serve!

Makes 4 main course salad servings or 8 – 12 salad course servings. Offer with some toasted baguette slices that have been spread with my Garlicky White Bean Dip.

Variations: Add more basil to the orzo salad. Omit the chicken for a vegetarian dish, but use the marinade as an herby dressing for the salad. For a gluten free option, substitute quinoa for the orzo pasta and omit the croutons.

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad Topped with Toasted Pine Nuts and Croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marinated Chicken Tomato Orzo Salad Topped with Toasted Pine Nuts and Croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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Lentil Marinara Sauce

Lentil Marinara Sauce. While trying to find a suitable substitute for meat one Meatless Monday evening, I thought about using either white beans or lentils in my pasta sauce. I was making zucchini noodles or “zoodles” and looking for a healthy but “meaty-tasting” sauce. Lentils sounded like an interesting idea.

With an initial puzzled comment of, “What? Lentils?”, my husband absolutely raved about this sauce. Let’s start with how to make it. I use Trader Joe’s red split lentils but you can use your favorite lentils.

Trader Joe's Red Split Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Trader Joe’s Red Split Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s basically my “The Best Spaghetti with Meat Sauce” recipe with a cup of cooked red split lentils substituted for the ground meat and the mushrooms omitted. You can keep the mushrooms in the recipe but I removed them for this dish. Saute some onion, carrot and celery in olive oil. Then add garlic and spices. Next, add diced tomatoes, red wine, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Season with some sugar, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer a few hours. Then add some cooked lentils to the sauce. Simmer a bit longer. Make some spaghetti pasta and serve the sauce over the pasta with lots of parmesan cheese. For a healthier meal, make some zucchini noodles or zoodles with a Spiralizer.

Marinara sauce chock full of Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Marinara sauce chock full of Lentils (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Offer with garlic bread and a nice fresh green salad tossed with my Tarragon Balsamic Dressing or my Low Fat Blue Cheese Dressing.

The lentils are indeed meaty and rich. Your family won’t miss the meat.

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Lentil Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 t dried oregano
2 t dried basil
2 t dried thyme leaves
1 t dried fennel seed
1 t dried rosemary
1 t dried marjoram
1 t dried dill
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 c dry red wine
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 T sugar
2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper

2.5 c water or vegetable stock
1 t salt
1 c red lentils

4 c zucchini noodles or 1 lb spaghetti pasta
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated/shredded for topping

Method:

1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
2. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the dried herbs all at once, and saute with the vegetable mixture.
5. Add the diced tomatoes and cook 3 minutes.
6. Add the dry red wine, and cook 5 minutes.
7. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Lower heat and simmer 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally so bottom doesn’t burn. Add liquid if necessary, such as more wine, or some vegetable stock/broth.
8. While the sauce is in its final simmering phase, in a small saucepan, heat the 2.5 cups of water or vegetable broth with the 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
9. Lower the heat, add the 1 cup of lentils, and cook, covered, until the lentils have softened and the liquid has mostly absorbed. Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and let warm through.
10. While the sauce is warming through, prepare the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions or boil/warm the zucchini noodles until al dente.
11. Drain and plate the spaghetti or zucchini noodles and top with lentil marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 – 6 as a main course over spaghetti or zucchini noodles. Offer toasted garlic bread and a fresh green salad on the side.

Variations: You can use other lentils such as green ones instead of the red ones. Instead of using spaghetti noodles or regular thin zucchini noodles, make the fatter/thicker style of zucchini noodles that are more like egg noodles.

Get a Spiralizer for yourself! I love mine. Amazon.com offers a number of Spiralizers:

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2015)

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