Crusty Italian Bread and Butter – what a treat!

What was once a mainstay of our diets is now something we actually think about before adding to the menu.  It’s an extra couple of hundred calories that we usually don’t need.  But tonight was soup – and a soup deserves bread and butter.  And, actually, so did we!

While I don’t usually follow recipes for soup – they’re usually just something I whip up – I saw this recipe for a chicken soup with leeks and mushrooms and was intriqued…

Chicken Mushroom Soup with Leeks

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz each), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large leek, white part only, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 sage leaves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 lb mixed fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 qt low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Chopped parsley

In a large soup pot, heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil on medium heat and sauté chicken 3 or 4 minutes or until opaque. Remove chicken from pot and add remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil, leek, garlic, sage and nutmeg. Cook until leek is soft, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a small bowl, leaving excess oil in pot, and set aside. Add mushrooms to pot and cook until golden brown. Return chicken and leek mixture to pot, salt and pepper to taste and sauté about 5 minutes. Pour in broth and sherry and bring to a simmer. Add cornstarch mixture and simmer 2 or 3 minutes more. Pour soup into 4 large bowls and garnish with parsley to taste. Serve immediately.

The only changes I did was used 2 leeks instead of one, 4 cloves of garlic instead of two, a scant teaspoon of rubbed sage instead of three leaves, and omitted the parsley.  It was pretty darn good!

I tend to want to keep adding things to a soup pot and could think of a dozen things I could add to this, but I think the beauty of this really is the simplicity.  You can really taste the mushrooms.  You pick up on the sage and the nutmeg – kinda – but can’t really identify them.  You just know there is flavor there that you like.  Same with the sherry – it compliments the mushroom flavor without imparting a strong taste of its own.  Plus that little tiny bit of cornstarch adds just enough body to the broth that you don’t even realize it’s there, but it, too, adds to the overall effect.

And a huge bowl is less than 300 calories!  That means bread and butter!