Wild, frugal or with a touch of luxury
Mushrooms are not something I’ve tried to grow yet, but each year we manage to forage a few of the wild ones and savour every mouthful. Normally I have to rely on the cultivated varieties, and in our local supermarket these are limited to either the chestnut or button varieties. However, on a good day there are always a few half-price packets (the dreaded best before date expired) which are eagerly taken home even if they have to be cooked and frozen to be used at a later date.
Mushroom soup is a favourite and the degree of frugality depends on what extras are lurking in the kitchen.
- 500g mushrooms
- 1 litre of stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 25g butter
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley plus a little more to garnish
- Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 tsp sherry vinegar
- Melt half the butter, add the onions and garlic and sweat gently in a covered pan
- Add half the mushrooms, parsley and stock, simmer gently for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender
- Cool slightly and then puree in a liquidiser or use a hand blender
- Saute the remaining mushrooms in the butter until soft and brown and then add to the soup
- Add a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp of sherry vinegar, taste add a little more if required together with a generous twist of black pepper
- Heat gently for 5 minutes and adjust the seasoning if required
- Serve with a sprinkling of the remaining chopped parsley
- If you are using wild mushrooms, clean carefully with a damp cloth and check for livestock (slugs love fungi). You will need to mix with cultivated mushrooms. Do not use wild mushrooms unless you are 200% sure of your identification, getting it wrong can be fatal.
- Try using use dried mushrooms to enhance the flavour – a handful is usually sufficient. Soak in warm water until soft and cook with the initial batch of mushrooms. Strain the soaking liquid and add to the stock.
- If the puree is too thick, add a little more stock.
- You can use light soy sauce or mushroom ketchup as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce
- Be profligate and add a generous (or frugal) glug of dry sherry or Madeira or Marsala.
- You can add more garlic, but don’t get carried away.
- Add a swirl of cream before serving. I promise it still won’t taste like the “cream of…” which comes in tin.