Here is a very flavorful, hearty and satisfying soup, which I often cook just with “on-hand” inexpensive ingredients, but it ‘s still great on a cool weeknight and no one, even meat lovers misses the meat in this really very tasty soup. —Kukla
4 to 6
• 8 cups water, divided
• 2-3 fresh or dried bay leaves
• 1 teaspoon peppercorns
• 1 large or 2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary + 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
• About 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
• 12 medium sized fresh mushrooms of your choice
• 2 tablespoons butter or oil for a vegetarian version + some more for sautéing mushrooms
• 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
• 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into thin strips or coarsely grated
• 2 large garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tablespoon Sherry or good red wine vinegar
• 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
Pour 4 cups cold water into a large stock pot; add potatoes and mushrooms; make a sachet (a cheese cloth bundle) of the bay leaves, peppercorns, sprigs of rosemary and thyme and add to the pot.
Bring to a boil over medium heat; add about 3/4 teaspoons of salt, lower the heat to medium-low and cook partially covered for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Turn of the heat; discard the sachet with herbs and spices and then using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a colander placed over a bowl and potatoes to a baking sheet or a tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess liquid.
While the potatoes and mushrooms are cooking, bring the remaining 4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy medium size saucepan. Add 3/4 teaspoons salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the cornmeal is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan or a skillet over medium heat; add the butter or oil, onions, parsnips and garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground white or black pepper and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until golden, about 4 -5 minutes.
Add potatoes and stir to coat; then add vinegar and scrape up any browned bits. Turn of the heat and add this mixture to the pot with the potato, mushrooms and spices stock; then add and combine with the cornmeal part of the soup. Alternately you can puree the potato and vegetables mixture in a blender (photo #2) and then combine all parts of the soup in the larger pot.
Slice the cooked mushrooms; heat a little more of the butter or oil and sauté them in the same pan where all the vegetables were cooked and then mix into the soup living some for garnish.
Return the pot to stove; taste for seasonings; add whatever it needs to your taste; bring soup to simmer and cook just until warmed through.
Serve hot, garnished with chopped thyme. Eat with good country bread and enjoy.