Saturday, October 3, 2015

It is Fall: Hungarian Mushroom Soup and Apple Pies

It is October; that Autumnal smell is in the air. 

Here in the Wasatch mountains, the changing of the seasons is particularly beautiful with the Rocky Mountain shrubs and oaks turning all manner of bright, warm colors, the mums blooming fervently, and the Utah gardens and orchards bountiful with the many fruits of Fall.  The apples are particularly delicious and abundant right now, and when we went to buy our pumpkins last week after school we couldn't resist buying a basket of Golden Delicious (literally and figuratively).  I promised Roman we'd bake his Daddy an apple pie, one of his favorite desserts, and maybe an apple turnover if there was leftover crust.  Roman agreed he'd help peel the apples.

Every year I look forward to Fall.  Halloween is tied for my favorite holiday with Christmas and at our house it is a rite of sorts to bring out the Halloween decorations and reminisce about them as we put them up.  We have the little mummy and skeleton bodies our jack-o-lanterns sit on, my witchy-witch hat (worn to hand out candy every year), Matt's extremely frightening Meatloafesque-skull mask (used to frighten neighborhood teenagers every year), Roman's "spirit" which hangs from a tree, bats, ghosts and all other manner of spooky things.  This year we bought a blow-up witch to add to the mix as well as a cackling witch figurine to replace a favorite cackling bobble head somehow lost in the mix.  I'm fairly certain our neighbors think we're pagans, but I somewhat delight in the outrage.

But Autumn isn't all ghouls and candy handouts.  In October we also look forward to buying our pumpkins and picking or buying local apples.  I was happily surprised to find that the area surrounding Salt Lake City is full of small farms and orchards.  In fact, in Ogden, our small city, most houses have at least one fruit tree and often a large home garden for the summer.  When we moved into our house I spotted a peach tree (sadly it is diseased) and we had about 6 rows of corn growing in our small allotment (more than enough for the entire summer for us and our neighbors), planted for us by the previous owners.  While the corn is gone now, everyone around us is still reaping the harvests of stone-fruit trees, squashes, and apples.  I can't say I mind this at all.

I've been told that this Utah practice of "grow your own" has something to do with the prevalent Mormon culture of (somewhat extreme) preparedness.  One of the first times Matt came to our new house to collect mail before we moved in, he found a small flier from a man in the neighborhood requesting all our personal information, that of our children as well as an itemized list of all the survival gear and food / water stores we had in our home.  Sooo, that went straight into the trash because, well, you know, identity theft.  But when we mentioned it to our neighbors months later they explained one person is assigned to each area by the city (and church) to keep tabs on every person and their survival stores.  You know, "just in case the mountain ever comes down on us," as my neighbor put it.  Way to make me feel like a paranoid jerk. :)  I assume everyone preserves and pickles the bounties of their gardens and while I'm  not sure we'll start hoarding canned goods and heat blankets, I think maybe I'll partake in the summer garden madness next year to a level I've never done before.  I've always wanted to grow eggplant.

So today I made the apple pie, and there was extra crust so I went ahead and made what came to be a lovely little apple turnover too.  The air was particularly crisp and so I thought a nice Hungarian Mushroom soup and some crusty bread would pair well.  I had this soup for the first time a week ago at a local deli called Berlin's.  Their sandwiches are so-so, but this soup, one I'd never heard of, was excellent and is very easy to replicate at home.  I added kielbasa to it to make it slightly heartier and for the meat-beast my husband tends to be.  I'll include the recipe for the soup below but as far as the apple pie, all I've got are tantalizing pictures of the butteriest, flakiest crust I've ever made.  We've yet to determine whether the dessert is improved by adding pecans.  As a Texas girl at heart, I can't see how it wouldn't be.  And how the heck did that not occur to me sooner?!

Happy Fall everyone!  To many delicious treats coming our way, no doubt.

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Hungarian Mushroom Soup 
Serves 4-6

This soup's list of ingredients feels unorthodox to me.  How did Hungarian soup end up using soy sauce?  Don't question a good thing, my friends.  The addition of kielbasa was mine.  While tasty, it was totally unnecessary.  If you chop your mushrooms thickly they are just as good as meat - one of the many reasons I am a complete mushroom fiend.  This was delicious with white mushrooms, but I can only imagine that it would be elevated to superb with a mix of wild mushrooms.  Give it a try with some nice crusty bread.  
A perfect autumnal delight.

*  *  *

1 lb white mushrooms, sliced thickly (about 3-4 slices per mushroom)

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb kielbasa, diced (OPTIONAL)
1/4 cup flour
2-3 tbsps butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 - 2 tbsps Paprika
2 tsp dried dill (if using fresh, double the amount)
1 tbsp soy sauce (yes, weird!)
 4-5 cups chicken stock or water (if you use water either add a lot more salt or chicken bouillon)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream (OPTIONAL)
1/2 lemon, juiced
fresh dill to garnish (optional)


1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat until butter is melted.  

2. Add the onions, mushrooms and kielbasa (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until the sausage is somewhat caramelized and the mushrooms have begun to brown and released their juices.  This will take about 10 minutes or so.

3. To the pot, add the flour and paprika and let it cook for 1-2 minutes, creating a roux.  Do not let it burn or get too dark - turn the heat down if necessary.

4. Add the broth, dill and soy sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, allowing the soup to thicken and reduce.  This will concentrate the flavors.

5. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix in the milk, sour cream and lemon juice.

6. Remove from heat.  Garnish with more dill and serve with crusty bread or garlic crostini. YUM.

Another spooky acquisition this year.

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