You may have noticed a dearth of anything Thanksgiving-related (save for our annual pre-Thanksgiving duck, of course) here on the blog. That, my friends, was intentional: I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving food to begin with (a little roast turkey goes a long way for me) and depending on the year and whose house we’re staying at, we tend to not do a lot of cooking. That probably sounds a little strange given that we cook so much on our own, but Thanksgiving is a day so steeped in food traditions that we’ll defer to them–well, at least until we get to take over the reigns of hosting the meal down the road. As for this year, Michael did an excellent job in roasting a 19-pound bird and I brought un poco de España into the mix with a few early-afternoon tapas that were well-received by my in-laws.
The Thanksgiving holiday weekend marks the beginning of the slightly-longer-than-a-month insanity punctuated by traveling, parties, projects and lots of food between now and the new year, and I for one am already craving a bit of lightness in my meals as well a rested mind to take on all of it. So when I was flipping through Catalan Cuisine a few weeks ago to pick out a meal to make in honor of El Clásico (the first of two matchups between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the best soccer teams in the world) and stumbled across a mushroom soup that looked so easy I could make it upon coming home from work, I knew I had found the perfect meal to balance out a weekend of gluttony. Michael helped out with the prepping of the mushrooms, and I had the soup on the table in about a half-hour. It had been a while since I had made anything for a weeknight meal, and the satisfaction of not only giving Michael a night off from the kitchen as well as making something tasty did much to boost my spirits as the soup did in restoring a sense of lightness.
As for the soccer game? Well, my Barça boys carried themselves well and trounced their biggest rivals in a 5-0 rout at Camp Nou. It was a pretty extraordinary game to witness–it was some of the best playing they’ve done all season, and two of my favorite players contributed three goals, two of them scored within three minutes of each other. All told, it was a good day, and I encourage you to take a moment and whip up a simple soup whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked or overfed this holiday season.
Sopa Gairebé Fredolic (or Almost Fredolic Soup, as I could not get Fredolic mushrooms)
adapted from Catalan Cuisine by Colman Andrews
- 3 oz pancetta, cubed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Olive oil
- 2 pounds mushrooms (the original recipe calls for medium-bodied wild mushrooms, but I used a combination of button, cremini and shiitake and they worked out well), halved/quartered to near-uniform size
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced with green and white ends trimmed
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to a soup pot or a Dutch oven; bring to medium heat. Add pancetta and render out the fat for about a minute or two before adding garlic. Heat for another 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release most of their water, which will take about 10 minutes. During this time add a little oil to help cooking (make a well in the middle of the mushrooms every three minutes for the first six and then stir vigorously) and season with salt to help extract the water. When a nice little broth has materialized in the pot, add a quart of chicken broth, throw in the thyme and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with green onions and serve immediately, removing the thyme sprigs.