Mushroom Soup


Spring brings to mind the melting of the snow in the grass, daffodils, crocuses coming up and lots and lots of yard and garden cleaning.  Between raking, burning and repairing winter damage there is not much time spent in the kitchen on those weekends.  It’s still a bit too cold to sit in the yard with a sandwich so soup is in order.  We bring our team effort into the kitchen and while I make the soup Philippe prepares his famous grilled cheese sandwiches.chopped mushrooms

I like to use a mixture of mushrooms as they all have a subtle difference in their individual taste and an assortment brings a bit more depth to the dish.  It also allows me to mix in a bit of the more expensive mushrooms without going overboard on the expenses.  It is a great way to experiment with what is available and in season.  This time I used a mixture of shitake and baby bella mushrooms.


  • 1.5 pounds mushrooms sliced or chopped ( about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup extra dry white vermouth
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup milk

Melt the olive oil and butter in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauteed until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauteed another 10 to 15 minutes. The mushrooms will release their juices and then start browning a bit after that.  That is the stage you want them at.cooked mushrooms

Pour the vermouth and deglaze the pan, mixing well (about 2 minutes).  Add the stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain the mushrooms and other solids, put the stock back in the stockpot but for one cup.  In a food processor or blender, puree the mushrooms with the one cup of stock until smooth.  Return to the stockpot and mix with the stock.  Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and milk and heat without boiling and serve.mushroom soup

NOTE:  This recipe can serve 4 to 6 as a main course.  You can also use it as a first course and it will serve 8 to 10.  As with many soups and stews, this soup can be made a day or two in advance and benefits from sitting and allowing the flavors to develop.  You can also substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.morrels

from my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Flan au sirop d’erable / Maple flan

maple syrupA couple of weeks ago we caravanned to Montreal with a group of friends.  We were on our way to Martin Picard’s  La Cabane a sucre du Pied de Cochon.  Cabane a sucre / maple shack is a big Quebecois tradition.  We are proud of our maple syrup and no other one will do! Chef Picard has Le Pied de Cochon restaurant in Montreal and la Cabane outside of the city.  I had made the reservations back in December crossing my fingers we would get in and found out in February that yes! we did get a table.  The whole experience was worth the wait!cabane a sucre pdc

Growing up in Montreal, the Cabane a sucre was a yearly tradition; one of family times as well as school field trips.  My husband has seen his share of cabanes when we were first married and lived in Montreal, but with my children born and raised in the U.S. it was a real treat to have them experience this food extravaganza for the first time in their lives.

Needless to say when we came back we were on a vegetable-only diet for a while but maple syrup kept being on my mind.  We even ended up smoking our ham for Easter and basting it with a maple glaze, but that is another post.  In the meantime enjoy simple, easy-to-make Maple Flan.flan maple


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoon maple syrup divided
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.

In a medium size saucepan combine the sugar with 3 tablespoon maple syrup and cook on medium heat until the mixture is thick , bubbly and amber color.  The mixture will be very hot and you will have to work quickly.  Pour into a flan pan : I use a 10 inch round about 1 3/4 inch high pan.  With oven mitts (remember the mixture is very hot!) quickly swirl the mixture to cover the entire surface of the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

It is very important while making the caramel to NOT stir the mixture constantly as it will burn and get hard.  Stir to start and then just let it be.  You want to pour it in the pan when it is all melted and amber.  Be quick as it can go from amber to burnt!

In the same saucepan you used for the caramel, quickly pour the cream and milk and return to the stove and heat up but do not bring to a boil.flan

In the meantime, in a large bowl whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla and remaining 3 tablespoon of maple syrup.  Slowly pour the hot milk/cream mixture and keep whisking until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the caramel coated pan and set the pan in a large sheet pan or roasting pan.  Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up half way up the sides of the flan pan.  Cover loosely with foil and bake for an hour or until the custard is firm to the touch.

Take the pan out of the water bath and let it cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chill, about 3 hours.

When ready to serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, cover with a large shallow plater ( as you will have a fair amount of syrup coming out of the dish) and quickly invert the flan onto the platter.  Slice onto plates and make sure you spoon lots of of the syrup with each serving!flan

NOTE:  Please! do NOT use fake maple syrup !!! it will ruin the taste , if you do not have maple syrup, use honey: for the caramel part, add 2 tablespoon of sugar to the one cup and for the custard substitute honey for maple syrup.  One more note, I could not go to the Cabane and not have my picture taken with Martin Picard.  Merci  Chef for your generosity and for being such a source of inspiration!!martin picard