Chicken Marsala Soup

Mushrooms. Morel, oyster, shiitake, maitake, enoki, chanterelle…no matter the type of mushroom, I love them. Well, I expect I would. There are actually over 14,000 species of mushrooms, only about half of which are okay to eat. Earthy, hearty, even meaty…they are the steak of the vegetable world. I had a large container of my favorite workhorse mushroom, creminis, in the fridge and was in the mood for some soup. Creminis are actually immature Portobello mushrooms, and often found as Baby Bellas. I browsed the web for some mushroom soup ideas and found a few chicken and mushroom recipes that looked good. One called for dry sherry, and that’s when it hit me: Chicken Marsala Soup!

This recipe has all things Chicken Marsala in a hearty, comforting soup; chicken, marsala, mushrooms, garlic, butter, pasta, and spinach for some color! I use organic chicken bone broth here, but you can substitute chicken broth or stock. I prefer bone broth for soups for the simple reason that it has more flavor, as it simmers for a very long time. As a bonus, it has more gut-healing gelatin and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Additional note about mushrooms. They have a high water content, and when you cook them, they will release juices. They are also porous, so I recommend not washing mushrooms. If they have dirt on them, take a damp cloth and wipe them off.

Mushrooms2

4 Tbsp Kerrygold butter, divided
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Wondra flour
2/3 cup Marsala wine, divided
6 cups organic bone broth
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken is great)
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
4 ounces uncooked dry pasta, your choice of shape (I used egg noodles in this version)
1 cup heavy cream
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach
Couple of shakes of Maggi Seasoning Sauce (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste

Top with shaved Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon wedges.
Serve with fresh, crusty Italian bread.

Melt half of the butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened and browned. Transfer mushrooms to a separate bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the stockpot along with the diced onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring until fragrant. Sprinkle the Wondra flour on the onion and garlic mixture and stir until completely combined.

Grab the good stuff – the Marsala – and add 1/3 cup to the stockpot. Deglaze the stockpot, using a wooden spoon to free any of those delicious brown bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of Marsala wine, chicken bone broth, shredded chicken, fresh or dried thyme, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Do not let it boil or it will burn off all the Marsala.

Reduce heat to medium and add the dry pasta. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring periodically, until the pasta is al dente. Add the cooked mushrooms back to the stockpot, along with the heavy cream and baby spinach. Stir until they are completely combined, and the spinach begins to wilt. Taste the soup and season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Give the Maggi Seasoning Sauce a couple of shakes into the pot and remove the thyme sprigs if using fresh thyme. Bring back to just a simmer; do not boil. Move the stockpot off the heat.

Note: If at some point, you brought the soup to a boil for a few minutes you can bring back that true Marsala taste at the end by adding a splash with your seasonings.

MarsalaPot

Ladle into bowls, and hit each bowl with a squeeze of lemon. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh lemon wedges; crusty, Italian bread on the side.

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Enjoy!! 🙂

 

 

 

Sous Vide Lobster Tails

I have been wanting to try sous vide cooking for some time, and on the recommendation of my colleagues bought myself a Sansaire for Christmas. Being one of those people who has a lot of kitchen ‘gadgets’, and very susceptible to advertising of new ones, I wanted a sous vide unit that would be easy to store. The Sansaire is just perfect. It’s a tall, black tower that you immerse partially into water for sous vide cooking. It stores easily, and doesn’t take up the room that something with a water receptacle would. For those that are curious, you can cool down bottles of wine very quickly with this baby as well. 🙂

Clean Catch had a huge selection of seafood in for the holidays, and I picked up two 10 ounce lobster tails with the rest of my order. I did some research on sous vide and cooking lobster, and it went all the way from 17 minutes to 41 minutes at 140 deg. F. Most of the articles were close to the 40 minute mark. Armed with my new toy, off I went into the kitchen.

My lobster tails came out very tender, with the entire tail cooked the same. Cooking in the water bath preserves the true taste of the lobster, which other methods don’t always do. I would cook these over and over again, and I can’t wait to try a variety of things with the Sansaire.

The Tails

2 10 oz lobster tails
4 Tbsp high quality butter; I used Plugra European Style, Kerrygold Irish works as well
2 tsp of your favorite seafood seasoning; I used Savory Spice Shop’s Cherry Creek Seafood Seasoning
Quartered lemons, for serving

In a pot big enough to hold water to be between the minimum and maximum lines on the Sansaire, fill it appropriately, keeping in mind that you will be adding food to it. Immerse the Sansaire, and set it to 140 deg. F.

Remove the meat from the lobster tails. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to cut down the middle of the front and the back of the tail with seafood shears, and then carefully work the meat away from the shell. You can also blanch them for a minute to make the meat easier to remove.

Lobster tails.

Put the tail meat, with 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 tsp of seafood seasoning, into a Food Saver bag. If you don’t have Food Saver bags, you can use a normal plastic zip and lock bag. Remove all the air from the bag and seal it using the machine. If using a normal plastic bag, lower the bag slowly into the water. The water will displace the air in the bag. When you are near the top, zip it closed.

Lobster tails ready to be cooked.

When your bags are sealed, confirm the water temperature is at 140 deg. F., and drop them into their bath. Leave them alone for 41 minutes.

Sansaire cooking the lobster.

After the time has passed, remove them from the water and from their bags. Serve with lemon quarters and two Tbsp. drawn butter. Enjoy!!

Finished sous vide lobster tails.

European Dover Sole Meuniѐre

The first and only time I had Dover Sole, it was, for lack of a better word, magnificent. Sautéed to a golden brown, served with a lush and decadent butter sauce, accented with capers and lemon. Definitely not an everyday meal, to be enjoyed for a special occasion.

The very best European Dover Sole comes from Holland, and is not often found in the US. It should not be confused with Pacific Dover sole, which is not a true sole and is related more closely to flounder. Clean Catch advertised they had fourteen of these special European fish fresh out of the water in Holland and on the way via overnight this week, with the description:

‘The flesh has an exceptional density, with tightly packed flakes that are amazingly juicy. Their aroma when cooked will remind you of savory bacon, and the flavor has a hazelnut sweetness you won’t find in any other fish. There is a buttery richness on the mouth, with an ocean flavor that dissipates slowly with each bite. Dover sole is an indulgence, an experience one you will not experience with any other fish.’

I decided to indulge.

Where to start. The most prominent chef to profess her love for this special fish was Julia Child. In My Life in France, she wrote that eating Sole Meuniѐre on her arrival in France was ‘an epiphany’. I pulled out my copy of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but much to my dismay Sole Meuniѐre was not included. A Bing search yielded her recipe from The Way to Cook; I tweaked it a bit to my liking. In this recipe, I use cilantro instead of parsley, sauté the fish in butter-infused olive oil, and add lemon and cilantro directly to the butter sauce.

1 European Dover Sole, filleted, skinned, with head removed
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons organic butter-infused olive oil (or other high quality olive oil)
4 tablespoons of clarified butter
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons capers
Juice of ½ lemon
Lemon wedges and cilantro

Layout and pat dry the fillets. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in a light coating of flour, brushing off excess with your fingers.

Heat the clarified butter slowly on low-medium heat in a small saucepan.

Add the olive oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil heats up, place filets in the pan, without overcrowding, about 3 to 4 to a skillet. Brown on one side about 1 to 2 minutes, and carefully flip over to brown the other side.

While the fish is finishing browning, add the capers and lemon to the butter. Be aware that these have a pretty violent reaction, and will spatter. Cover with foil if you like until the reaction stops. Add the chopped cilantro and stir gently.

Remove fish to a platter. Spoon the lemon-caper butter sauce over fish. Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve immediately.

C’est magnifique! 🙂

European Dover Sole Meuniere