Here's Mushrooms in Your Bechamel

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When I was in high school, white sauce was the first lesson in home economics. In those long-ago days--the late 1930s--girls learned to cook and boys went to shop and learned mechanics. I remember stirring thick, bland, lumpy sauces which didn't enhance otherwise decent leftovers.

But when white sauce is well made, it has a valuable place in many dishes and gives leftovers a pleasing reincarnation. It is ideally suited for this soup recipe.

When you want to make just a sauce and not a soup, and you are using it over rice, pasta or toast, reduce the amount of these ingredients by one-half or one-third. This freezes well.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes * Vegetarian

3/4 pound white mushrooms

6 tablespoons butter, divided

Salt

1 quart milk

1/4 cup flour

Freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons lemon juice, optional

2 tablespoons grated onion, optional

Break the stems off the mushrooms and wipe them clean with a damp paper towel. Cut the stems into 3 or 4 slices. Set them aside. Wipe the mushrooms clean with the paper towel. Slice the mushroom caps into 1/4-inch slices and add them to the stems.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, tilting the skillet when the butter is melted so the butter coats and covers the bottom. Add the sliced mushrooms, lightly salt them and stir so they are cooked on both sides, about 4 minutes. Set them aside.

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat so it is just hot; don't boil the milk. Set the milk aside.

Using a 1 1/2-to 2-quart saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Tilt the pan so the butter coats the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and stir constantly until the butter and flour are smoothly blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to stir. Stir the sauce over moderate heat for 3 to 4 minutes, then taste for enough salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice or onion, if desired. Stir to mix well. Add the cooked mushrooms. Serve hot.

4 servings. Each serving: 277 calories; 386 mg sodium; 63 mg cholesterol; 22 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 1.25 grams fiber.

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