I am so fortunate to have such wonderful readers, and am humbled by their kindness and thoughtfulness. Recently one reader, Judy L., gave me a special hundred-year-old cookbook out of her collection. The book is called For Luncheon and Supper Guests by Alice Bradley. Judy is not sure, but the cookbook may have belonged to her grandmother. The small book has 10 menus and more than 100 recipes that are:
Suitable for company luncheons, Sunday night suppers, afternoon parties, automobile picnics, evening spreads, and for the tea room, lunch room, coffee shops, and motor inns.
The book’s author dedicated it to:
The thousands of women who like to entertain their friends and prepare for them something new and delicious to eat.
The book is a joy to browse through, and I can picture cooks a hundred years ago using it to plan lovely events. Judy, thank you!
The first recipe I made out of the book was the recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup. I tend to associate Cream of Mushroom Soup with the condensed canned soup and think of it as more of a recipe ingredient than something to eat on its own. Yet the old cookbook recommended it as a special dish to serve guests, so I decided to give it a try.
This recipe is for a delicate, velvety smooth mushrooms soup that was perfect on a cold winter day – and that would be delightful for a light lunch with friends.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made this recipe I bought an 8-ounce box of whole button mushrooms – and chopped the entire mushrooms rather than buying more mushrooms and only using the stems and skins. (By the way, what is a mushroom skin?)
The old recipe says to serve the soup in bouillon cups which made me think about presentation. How would a hostess in days gone by serve this soup to her lunch guests? I then remembered some vintage luncheon plates way in the back of the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets. They have an indentation for a small matching bowl. I pulled my step stool over, climbed up and got one of the plates and bowls out. I then made a sandwich to go with my soup. And, suddenly, with just a little imagination, my boring Saturday lunch was transformed into a beautifully presented luncheon in a different time and place.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
2 cups milk
1/2 pound (8 oz.) mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (Use less if the chicken broth contains salt.)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Put milk in a saucepan, and using medium heat, heat until it is scalded (just begins to boil); stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the mushrooms, onions, and chicken broth in another saucepan, and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and strain; keeping the liquid. (The vegetables can be discarded or served separately.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper, then gradually add the mushroom broth while stirring constantly, Using medium heat bring to a boil while continuing to stir occasionally; then stir in the scalded milk and reheat until hot and steamy.
Note: This recipe is for a silky smooth mushroom soup, but if desired, the cooked chopped mushrooms and onions that were strained out when making the mushroom broth, can be stirred back into the soup for a more robust chunky soup.