Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Creamy Mushroom Spinach Chowder

I grew up with a mom that made cream of mushroom soup as soon as the cold weather hit. In Romanian fashion, we'd often eat it with polenta. I crave a creamy mushroom soup the way that other people crave chicken noodle soup for comfort. This is a recipe I've come up with and used the last couple winters that has has seemed to stick with our family. Sure, it's not fat-free, but it's a LOT less rich than the standard recipes I've seen for 'cream' of anything...and that's my consolation (ha).

I have made this soup with both Provolone and Swiss cheese--our favorite may be a combination of the two--but you can do one or the other. I used baby portabella mushrooms--but regular white mushrooms will do just as good. Also, you can use fresh or frozen spinach and it's good either way. If you prefer, you can increase the amount of spinach if you prefer for a more nutritional punch. OR you can completely skip the spinach altogether!


2 Tbsp. butter
5 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
5 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups skim milk
½ tsp. salt
black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup half and half-light or fat-free is fine (OR, 2-3 oz. light cream cheese, softened and cut in cubes)
1 cup grated Provolone cheese (or Swiss, or a combination of both)
1 package fresh baby spinach-about 6 oz. (rinsed & chopped) OR, 1/2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. In it, slowly sauté the mushrooms and onion until tender. Add flour and stir until flour is cooked, a couple of minutes.

Whisk in first chicken broth and then milk, stirring until thickened. Add salt and pepper, nutmeg, and the cheeses. Stir until just melted. Then stir in spinach. Heat and stir very gently. Season to taste.

Serve hot.

Makes about 6 servings.

NOTE: If you have leftover soup that you refrigerate, please keep in mind that this soup will condense somewhat and you can either add more broth or water to dilute it, or the best option is to reheat it gently and add some more milk to it until it reaches your desired consistency (either on stovetop or in microwave).

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