Silver Dollar

Named for Chico’s annual summertime fair, our take on Hungarian Mushroom soup is, hands down, our most talked-about creation. Pretty much da bomb. If you don’t like mushrooms, you’ll want to move along. (Vegetarian, with the Vegan variation below.)

(Makes 2 quarts. Make extra, because it freezes beautifully!)

1 lb mushrooms, sliced (button or cremini)

2 medium onions, quartered and sliced crosswise

2 Tbsp butter*

3 Tbsp flour

1 cup whole milk*

1 Tbsp dried dillweed, divided

4 tsp Hungarian paprika (or cayenne pepper if you’re a masochist***)

1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 tsp salt, or more to taste

3 cups Golden Vegetable Broth

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1/3 cup sour cream*

Freshly ground black pepper

Saute onions in a ladle of stock. Add mushrooms, 2 tsp dill, ½ cup broth, tamari, and paprika. Cover and low simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in separate saucepan and whisk in flour. Cook for one minute. Continue to stir, gradually adding milk, and cook over low heat until thick, about 10-15 minutes.(This is where a righteous soundtrack comes in handy, because who likes to just stand there and stir?) Add remaining broth and mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and remaining dill. Temper** the sour cream and add back to the pot with the chopped parsley. Taste for salt. Go directly to heaven.

*Veganize it! Use dairy-free butter substitute instead of butter, 1 1/3 cups coconut or almond milk instead of dairy milk and sour cream, and double the lemon juice.

**What the heck does “temper” mean? Put sour cream in a bowl and gradually whisk in enough hot liquid to bring the temperature up so the cold sour cream won’t curdle when you add it back to the hot soup. To temper or not to temper pretty much comes down to your soup being servable or completely grossing out your guests.

***True Confessions from The Brothel: One time, at band camp, the Soup Charmer grabbed the cayenne pepper instead of the Hungarian paprika and didn’t discover her faux pas until she had already dumped a metric ton of cayenne into the 30+ quart pot. The Soupinator to the rescue! He drained the pot into a huge colander and rinsed the crap out of those ‘shrooms. We reprinted our ingredient labels that week to include “cayenne pepper”, although nobody tasted the difference. Oopsie!

In 1950, it appeared that the fair was in trouble. The local merchants seemed unappreciative of the business generated by the fair and were apparently unwilling to support it as enthusiastically as before. W.H. “Old Hutch” Hutchinson was working as publicist for the fair that year. He hit upon a way to dramatize to the merchants the impact of the fair on their businesses. He ordered 50,000 silver dollars from the U.S. Mint, and all premiums and much of the fair’s business were transacted with these new coins. As the large, heavy coins filled their cash registers to overflowing, the merchants got the message. These coins also appeared all over Northern California. Incidentally, that’s how the fair got its present name. The first Silver Dollar Fair was held that year. The name stuck, even though business dealings reverted to the more conventional and convenient currency.
This is our recommended jam for making Silver Dollar. 70’s outfits and dance moves are optional.

Did you make this soup? Let us know in the comments!

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