Mushroom soup with beef, bacon, and spinach meatballs

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This soup may not be pretty… (Okay, it’s TOTALLY not pretty, but that’s okay.) but HOLY MOLY it is delicious. The soup itself is delicious and creamy and rich, and AMAZINGLY healthy. It tastes decadent and rich, but there isn’t so much as a drop of cream in there. The little meatballs add some protein to make it a delicious AND filling meal, perfect for a winter day.

Okay, so this post and probably the next one aren’t going to be my normal picturepaloozas. I may have dropped my camera after I was done with the Chicken with Blood Orange and Fennel Salad. None of the lenses are cracked, however the zoom lens appears to be off the track or something, and I will be getting it fixed this weekend. Until then, I’m working with it as best as I can, but I didn’t want to push my luck. If the focus seems a little… um…. off, that would be the reason. Anyway, keep a good thought for my zoom lens. It would be a VERY. BAD. THING. if it needed replacing right now.

That being said, I’ve done all my mise en place in these pictures. It’s also broken into two parts, the soup and then the meatballs. If you are feeding a mixed crowd with vegetarians and/or vegans this soup is perfect, just add the meatballs to the portions that are going to meat eaters.

The Ingredients:

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– 1 onion chopped up

– 4 large cloves of garlic chopped

– 2 lbs of sliced mushrooms

– 1/2 ounce dried porcinis, re-hydrated (reserve the liquid used to re-hydrate)

– 1 head of cauliflower, riced. (see my Chicken Curry…ish recipe to learn how to rice cauliflower)

– oil (I used avocado oil, use whatever makes your skirt fly up)

– 4 cups plus some of vegetable stock

– Salt and pepper

**NOW! I didn’t add a ton of herbs to this, because I wanted to keep it simple this time around. Rosemary, thyme, sage, or red pepper would be amazing added to this. GO CRAZY!!)

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Throw some oil into the pan. 3 or 4 tablespoons. It’ll seem like a lot, but have faith! It’ll work out in the end. Heat it up, and add the onion and the garlic and let it cook for a while.

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The onions will start to get translucent. You can see here that I didn’t kill myself getting the onions all chopped evenly. Everything cooks for a while, and then gets blended, so I wasn’t worried so much about it. Because I’m lazy.

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Anyway, after the onion and garlic starts to get nice and cooked, add the two pounds of mushrooms. I used 1 lb of sliced button mushrooms, and 1 lb of baby bellas. It is a ton of mushrooms.

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Let the mushrooms cook down. They should be nice and soft and delicious looking, and they should start to release some delicious mushroomy liquid.

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Grab the bowl with the re-hydrated porcinis in it. Depending on where they are from, the soaking liquid may need to be strained before use, as it can be slightly sandy. I’ve used this brand several times, and have never had a problem, so I dumped the whole thing in my pot.  (If straining, add the mushrooms, then strain the soaking liquid into the pot.)

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Once the porcinis are added, add four cups of vegetable stock. (It is one carton of stock.)

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Throw the head of riced cauliflower into the pot…

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Mix together, and throw the cover onto the pot. Simmer on low for a while, basically until the cauliflower is tender.

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Once the cauliflower is cooked until tender, turn the heat off the pot, and let the whole thing cool enough to be safely blended. I think it’s a bad idea to blend super hot stuff. Mostly because I’m accident prone, and it seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

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Once the soup is cooler, start blending it in batches.

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I wasn’t happy with the texture of things. It was a little thick, and that didn’t allow it to get as smooth as I would have liked. So I added about 3/4 to 1 cup of vegetable stock to it, and blended it again.

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Much better. Now, if you happened to taste it at this point, it’s going to be weird, bland, and gross. It has no seasoning, but never fear.

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SEASON AWAY!!! Add a bunch of pepper. I added a TON. Also add a ton of salt. It’s going to feel like so much salt, but it’s also like, 12 gallons of soup. Taste as you go, and be patient. All of a sudden it’s going to be a mouth explosion of flavor. As if by magic. AND THE SOUP IS DONE!

But seriously, unless you are feeding those crazy vegetarians/vegans, make sure to add these meatballs. They are filling and warm and comforting and not to be missed.

The Ingredients:

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– A big bunch of basil, chopped

– A big bunch of parsley, chopped

– A box of frozen spinach, defrosted with all the water squeezed out. (Squeeze the hell out of it… extra water is BAD.)

– An egg

– 5 slices of bacon, frozen, chopped, and thrown into the food processor to grind it.

– 1 lb of ground beef

– Not seen here: Pepper

I didn’t add salt to these as I knew the bacon was very salty, and didn’t want to risk the meatballs being unpalatable.

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Whisk the egg, and mix in the herbs and spinach.

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Throw the beef and the bacon in with the shrubbery.

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Mix the whole mess together, then add a generous

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 Roll the meat mixture into mini meatballs. They should be just a hair bigger than bite size, as they will shrink a little when they are cooked.

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 Throw the meatballs into a 350 degree oven, and cook for about 15 minutes. Throw the meatballs into the blended soup, and let them hang out a bit and simmer together for a bit, or add them directly to the bowls of finished soup. Enjoy the delicious, rich, crazy warm filling flavors. YUM!

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