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The Outcast: Mushroom Bisque


April 15, 2009

The day I decided to start a food blog I was making Mushroom Bisque.

Having resolved that my food processor (heretofore referred to only as FP) was utterly too high maintenance, I was determined to use the blender. As the blissful 6 TB of required butter began to melt and sizzle away I triumphantly tossed the onions into the blender, casting a nasty glance at the aforementioned FP.

Perhaps a word about how the FP became the kitchen pariah is in order. For one, it lives in the back of a cupboard that I find impossible to get to. Despite the fact that we’ve lived in our house for two years our kitchen cupboards are still without handles requiring a sort of Pilates like maneuver to open, where one grabs the door with their toes and thrusts it backwards hoping not to fall over or ruin their pedicure from 7 weeks ago.

Secondly, the FP had betrayed me. One quiet night while making broccoli soup I poured my mixture into it, and without warning, it began pouring out the bottom. Burned fingers, a messy range, and lost liquid were the causalities. That said, my mother had always implemented a strict 3-stike policy so I decided the FP had just been having an off night. Cleaning it up, tucking it in for the night, and assuring it that I wasn’t angry I didn’t think much more about it.

The next time I went to pour something delicious into it, it did precisely the same thing. Shouting all kinds of expletives and jumping up and down I gave the FP the kind of exasperated and incredulous looks my mother used to give me when I’d march down the stairs dressed in little more than a bandana and hoochie shorts, declaring myself ready for A.P English. As my perfectly stewed tomatoes oozed all over my kitchen counter and I hollered, my lovely fiancé declared to me, “Of course it’s oozing it…you went over the line.” ‘The Line’. As though there is some sort of food processor golden rule that we are supposed to be aware of. As I glared at him he tried to point out the error of my ways. While I’m loath to admit it, he very well may be right (he usually is). Despite this, I considered the FP grounded as it undoubtedly wasn’t capable of handling the responsibilities I was prepared to bestow on it.

The series of tragic FP events had left me attempting to chop onions and mushrooms in the blender. Certainly I could have just “finely chopped” them myself, but I am a lousy chopper. I get bored, things get inconsistent, and I end up throwing massive hunks of whatever into the recipe with hopes that it will somehow mysteriously become the perfect little cubes that other cooks seem capable of creating.

While the blender wasn’t really as efficient as the FP, I considered myself brilliant as I moved things from blender to pot, stirring the mushrooms and onions into the butter, cooking until that delicious smell started, and removing from heat (feeling quite smug that ‘removing’ for me only meant turning off the burner since we have a gas range). Next went in the flour and beef bouillon at which point we were ready to put the whole mixture back into my star pupil, the blender.

Pouring it in, and clucking with pleasure that it all fit (it would NEVER have all fit in the FP), I went to hit the pulse button. Entirely unprepared, the top of the blender went flying as my beautifully simmered and incidentally scalding hot, mushroom bisque raised to the top of a blender like a full moon tide. Bisque went flying, more yelling commenced, and the dogs came running to see how they could help. A bit of bisque landed in handy proximity to my lips and a quick smack determined that it was actually pretty damn good. A few more pulses (this time firmly held down by yours truly and a dish rag that had also joined the pariah ranks) I blended the last of it, and poured it back into the pot. A bit of heavy cream, truffle oil, a splash of sherry, and we were in action.

Sitting down to the table, and sipping a glass of yummy red wine, I decided, I think I’ll start a food blog. And thus, is how this begins.

Mushroom Bisque

6 TBSP butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
3 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp. meat concentrate (this is the kind of thing I never have, so skipped it)
1 1/2 cups stock or boullion
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup whipping cream

+ for that extra bit of deliciousness a splash of sherry and/or truffle oil is divine.

1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add finely chopped onion and stir over moderate heat until onion is transparent. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, another 4 minutes.

2. Remove the mixture from the heat and blend in teh four and meat concentrate. Add the stock slowly, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaf and pepper (Note, if you prefer a thinner soup, add more stock. A thicker soup, less).

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. (This is the point when I re-blended everything to get that delicious creamy bisque. Remove bay leaf and stir in cream. If desired, garnish with croutons before serving. Makes 6 servings.


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