Saturday, May 25, 2013

“Metro: Last Light” takes place in a futuristic Moscow after nuclear destruction has obliterated human life above ground and forced people to live in the metro tunnels and stations.

Developer 4A Games did a very good job of depicting what life would be like underground. Residents live in very small shacks, supplies are limited and the selection of food must change from what people would be used to above ground.

Root vegetables would probably be plentiful as well as mushrooms in the dark of civilization. In thinking of what would be good food to fit this scene, I turned to an old Russian favorite – potato and mushroom soup. It would also be something warm to take the edge off the chill of the dark tunnels.

Start off melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Traditionally, leeks would be used, but I think green onions would be easier to grow so slice four of them (just the white and light green parts) and toss in the melted butter.

Carrots are also a good root vegetable and I like using the baby carrots when cooking. They are easier to break down, don’t seem to go bad if they linger in the fridge and make a great snack alone. Chop up about eight of those to go with the onion and cook for 5 minutes.

After the vegetables have softened up, it’s time for the seasoning. Add 2 cups of chicken broth, ¾ teaspoons of dried dill weed, ¾ teaspoons of salt (I always use kosher salt), ½ of a bay leaf and a few turns from a pepper grinder (fresh ground pepper is the best).

Peel a large potato (about 12 ounces) and dice it up into small cubes, about ¼ inch. The smaller size will help them cook faster, releasing more of the starch to help thicken the soup. Toss those in with the seasoning, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but not squishy (technical term). After everything has cooked, remove from the heat and fish out that pesky bay leaf (to quote Alton Brown, “not good eats”).

In a medium skillet, melt another tablespoon of butter and toss in 6 ounces of sliced fresh mushrooms. I chose the largest I could find because I wanted something in the soup to have a little firmer texture from the rest of the ingredients. Sauté those for about 5 minutes or lightly browned, then stir them into the soup.

For the finishing touch, mix together 1/3 cup of half and half with 1 1/3 tablespoons (that’s 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) of flour until smooth and silky. Stir that liquid into the soup and ladle into bowls.

If you have fresh dill on hand, you can certainly use that as a garnish, but I’d much rather just dive in. A nice, flavorful bread like sourdough or a rosemary bread goes great and helps gather up that last bit of soup in the bowl.

The entire process takes about an hour with preparation and cooking. I’m sure this recipe was used to ward off the winter chill in Moscow and makes sense for those underground dwellers in “Metro: Last Light.”

My next inspired recipe from the game was born from the idea of the large sea creatures they have in the flooded out tunnels. Called “shrimps” by the fisherman, these aquatic swimmers remain docile until agitated or attacked, and reminded me of cows. Wait until you see what I cook up next.

Ingredients list
·        2 T. butter, divided
·        4 green onions (white parts only), chopped
·        8 baby carrots, chopped
·        2 c. chicken broth
·        ¾ t. dried dill weed
·        ¾ t. salt
·        5 grinds of black pepper (or to taste)
·        ½ bay leaf
·        12 oz. potatoes, peeled and diced
·        6 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
·        1 1/3 T. flour

The original recipe for the Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup was found here. I scaled the size down for this recipe to serve 4 as well as made some changes in ingredients. If you want to know what I thought about the game, you can read a review here


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