Month: December 2017

B’stilla: Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but  (make it) soon.

B’stilla: Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but (make it) soon.

    I ate my first B’stilla years ago in Casablanca. I fell in love. (Cue the music: As time Goes By.) We had travelled to Spain to visit Jim Shelton, a teacher friend who had moved to Alicante. Then, on a romantic whim, we booked […]

Cranberry Beans with Polenta

Cranberry Beans with Polenta

I’m late to the party. (What’s new? I know.) To be honest, I didn’t even know I liked soft polenta, but it is pretty wonderful, particularly mixed with generous amounts of butter and grated asiago (or parmesan) cheese. In this dish, the polenta is topped […]

A Mushroom-Spinach Soup With A Whole Lot of Character

A Mushroom-Spinach Soup With A Whole Lot of Character




“When I was born I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother.”

–Rodney Dangerfield


Close your eyes and this soup is absolutely delicious. Stare at it in your bowl…not so much.

How do you write about (let alone photograph) a recipe that is just plain ugly? Do your say that the soup is “big boned?” Aesthetically challenged? Has a great personality?

This is an adaptation of a Melissa Clark recipe from the New York Times where, as of today, fifteen hundred and sixty-four people have weighed in on this recipe and the reviews are ecstatic–5 stars (out of 5 stars).

I loved it, too. It’s rich and hearty. The combination of spices is genius. It takes a very talented (and risk-taking) chef to even think of putting cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice in a mushroom soup.

And, who needs a beauty queen at the table anyway? With soup– as it should be in life, it’s all about character.

Mushroom Soup
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  • 6 T. unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil (I used butter.)
  • 1 1/4 pounds mushrooms (I used cremini but you could mix it up by adding oyster mushrooms, chanterelles and/or shiitakes to your mix)
  • 1/2 pound shallots (finely diced)
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 2 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 3/r t. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 2 1/2 t. kosher salt (to your taste)
  • 5 C. water
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • Fresh lime juice (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 C. cooked barley
  • Plain yogurt (optional)


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter (or olive oil) in a soup pot. Saute one-half of the mushrooms and one-half of the shallots in the oil. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the other half of the butter, mushrooms and shallots. Return all the sautéed mushrooms to the soup pot.
  2. Add tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice to the pot and cook until the spices are fragrant for about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in 5 C. water, salt and black pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in the baby spinach and let the soup cook until the spinach is wilted (about 1-2 minutes).
  4. Remove some of the chopped mushrooms from the soup pot and set aside. Using an immersion blender or blender, coarsely puree the soup. Add the chopped mushrooms back into the soup.Add the cooked barley. Add the lime juice to your taste. Thin with additional water if needed. Serve with shreds of spinach to garnish and a generous dollop of yogurt stirred into the soup. Alternatively, serve with shaved parmesan.


Here is the link to the original recipe from this recipe was adapted: Mushroom-Spinach Soup with Cinnamon, Coriander, and Cumin


Spiced Persimmon Tea Cake: Perfect for a Blustery Morning in SoCal

Spiced Persimmon Tea Cake: Perfect for a Blustery Morning in SoCal

Here I sit on a blustery December day in Southern California enjoying a hot cup of my favorite Darjeeling tea and a slice of this spice cake. Sweet Juliet is curled up at my feet enjoying a quiet nap. Mmmm. Life is good. I think […]

Sweet Home-Baked Beans

Sweet Home-Baked Beans

    Raise your hands if you don’t like baked beans.  Nobody?  I thought so. This baked bean recipe has it all. It shines with the best beans you can buy but it is also great with plain Jane canned beans. (I used Rancho Gordo […]