Tag Archives: soup

Cream of Ketchup and Mustard Soup

I almost experienced the most embarrassing moment of my culinary life last weekend. I’d gotten together with my dear friend Sonya, a connoisseur of crazy scarves and — lucky for me — cheeseburgers, to plan a cookout extravaganza. The weather has been so nice in Charlotte lately, and we wanted to celebrate.

We piled hamburgers, hot dogs, and cheddarwursts on the grill as our friends started to arrive. That’s when we realized the problem.

One of the gals we invited is a passionate vegetarian, a fact that had somehow completely slipped my mind. As soon as I saw her walking into the backyard with a pitcher of iced tea to share, I remembered her dietary restrictions like being hit with a freight train.

You’re probably thinking this was not a big deal. She can just eat side dishes, right? She can have dessert, right? WRONG. We didn’t have a single vegetarian option. The potato salad had sausage in it. The macaroni and cheese was made with chicken broth. The cupcakes were flippin’ maple bacon cupcakes! DRAT.

I panicked. At first I piled some lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on a plate to make a salad of sorts. That seemed insulting, though, and I knew I had to whip her up a more impressive vegetarian entrée. I scurried into the kitchen as Sonya sipped some lemonade and chatted to keep everyone occupied.

That’s when this masterpiece occurred to me. It’s the perfect vegetarian option at a cookout, because it tastes like a burger-free burger. It’s Cream of Ketchup and Mustard Soup! The ketchup is bright but undercut by the tang of the sultry mustard. Just a smidge of pepper for bite, and this soup was a carnival of creamy condiment deliciousness.

Our vegetarian friend raved with every sip, and asked for the recipe before she left. What a sweet success! I hope you’ll try it for yourself and enjoy.

Cream of Ketchup and Mustard Soup*

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yields: 2 servings

1 cup ketchup
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream for serving (optional)


Mix ingredients together over medium-high heat. Simmer for 10 minutes before separating soup into two soup bowls, topping with sour cream, and serving.

*April Fool’s! I did not hold a cookout, the weather has been cold and rainy in Charlotte, I do not own a grill, I did not make this soup, I definitely did not ingest this soup, and I don’t even know anyone named Sonya (unfortunately — what a fun name).

This soup is probably gross, so for Heaven’s sake, please don’t serve it to your vegetarian friends as a meat alternative at a cookout. Unless you don’t want to have any more vegetarian friends, that is.

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Magnificent Cream of Mushroom Soup with Crispy Leeks

Sometimes the best flavors come in modest packages. My sister, Sarah, and I know this firsthand after a trip to Washington, D.C. a few years ago.

That weather in D.C. that weekend was abysmal — cold, rainy, and windy. Not blustery or breezy, but gale-esque. Sarah and I stopped in at cafes or coffee shops regularly to warm up, and I bought fuzzy shoes to replace the worn out flats I’d been trying to trek around the city in.

On Saturday night, we pulled out the short list of potential restaurants we’d compiled before we left Charlotte. Zaytinya, which boasted a “mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines” stood out to me right away, and we decided to head in from the cold and have a nice dinner.

Feeling adventurous, Sarah asked our server what his very favorite thing on the menu was. We wanted something amazing; we were on a mini-vacation, after all, and the best part of a vacation is the food. Imagine our surprise when he replied, “The Brussels sprouts, definitely.”

Now, listen. I love Brussels sprouts and have since I was little. Nice buttery little Brussels are always welcome in my tummy. Roasted, steamed, shredded into a weird slaw — I’ll eat ’em any way you give ’em to me.

However, that being said, I think we can all agree that it’s an unexpected twist when a fancy, creative restaurant boasts that the best thing on their menu is the Brussels. They’re good and all, but not best material.

Sarah turned kind of sprouty green herself, since she’d had a traumatic experience with Brussels sprouts as a child. Nevertheless, she mustered up her bravery and open-mindedness and we ordered the Brussels. When they came, we each took a curious bite and (cue trumpets and joyful singing) were amazed.

These were not just the best Brussels we’d ever had, y’all. This was one of the best dishes we’d ever had. I wish I remembered more about it to fill you in, but all I really remember is coriander and awesomeness.

The point is this: incredible things can come in unexpected packages. This modest, simple to make Cream of Mushroom Soup is another perfect example. My sweet Sunday school teacher, Joyce, invited me over and I arrived to find a lovely spread of fresh fruit, crackers, a bright citrusy salad, decadent parfaits for dessert, and this soup as the star of the show.

I knew it was going to be comforting and delicious, but — much like with my D.C. Brussels sprouts experience — I didn’t realize I’d be blown away! The mushroom flavor is so rich and pronounced, and thyme is the perfect complement. And oh goodness, two words, y’all: crispy leeks! They’re a little extra effort, but they added so much flavor to the dish. I asked Joyce if I could scribble down the recipe and the very next weekend, I was in my kitchen recreating the soup for myself. What a pleasant surprise that in addition to being delicious, it’s relatively quick to whip up!

Are you snowbound (or about to be)? Or maybe just hungry? Do yourself a favor and make a big pot of simple-but-magnificent mushroom soup.

What’s your favorite simple food that packs a big flavor punch?

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Crispy Leeks

Recipe by: Adapted from Phyllis Hoffman’s Celebrate Magazine
Yields: about 4 servings

Soup Ingredients:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped leeks
1 1/2 pound mixed sliced mushrooms (I used sliced buttons)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
4 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream

Crispy Leek Ingredients:
vegetable oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
kosher salt

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute about 5 minutes or until tender. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and salt and pepper. Cook about 12 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft the the liquid evaporates some. Add the chicken broth, bring to a bowl, and then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, fry leeks. Heat 1 – 1.5 inches of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. I tested the oil by adding a leek and seeing how appropriately it fried. When your oil is ready, add leeks and fry in batches (they won’t fry well if you try all at once, so do about 3 or 4 batches). Fry until folden and remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

After 15 minutes, transfer 1 cup of soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add this back to the pot and add the cream. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. Serve topped with crispy leeks.

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