Wild Mushroom Soup Recipe
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Autumn is the time for gathering wild mushrooms in Limousin
What could be nicer for the shortening autumn days than a bowl of wild mushroom soup? I live deep in the heart of rural France, in Limousin where the mushrooms sprout up overnight like - mushrooms!
It's the end of October, Halloween, All Saints Day, (or Toussaint) and the weather in Limousin is warm and wet - perfect for mushrooms! I gather mine by the kilo from the wild and use this easy mushroom soup recipe to make large quantities of soup that I then freeze for use later on in the year. Of course, your mushrooms don't have to be wild - the soup will be delicous with bought mushrooms too.
Les Trois Chenes, our bed and breakfast and holiday cottage, is just ten minutes from the historic town of Rochecouart and it's set in the rolling hills, oak and chestnut woodlands, and green pastures grazed by the famous Limousin cattle, sheep and horses. It's a land of lakes too and I find mushrooms popping up on the lakeside, in the fields and in the woods.
Here in this forgotten part of the country, the farming techniques are relatively natural with less emphasis on chemicals, herbicides, insecticides, artificial fertilizers and such like. Here the farmers use green manures and good, old fashioned animal manures. So it's not surprising really, to find that over the last few day mushrooms have been sprouting on grass verges along the roadside, on lawns but, above all, on the gentle slopes grazed by sheep.
A few leisurely walks along our lovely footpaths and country lanes in the soft, autumn sunshine soon yielded kilos of mushroom and a few puffballs with almost no effort what-so-ever.
I find mushrooms growing in lakes and fields of Limousin
How to identify wild fungi
Easy to use and beautifully illustrated classic by Roger Phillips
Identifying wild mushrooms - Agaricus campestris
The rule with picking wild mushrooms and funghi is take advice or leave well alone if you have any doubt at all that you know what you are picking. Eating the wrong type can make you very ill indeed or even kill you.
Having read about funghi generally, identified our mushrooms in Roger Phillips' excellent books (see below) and checked with the local people, I felt confident we had the real thing.
These mushrooms are from the Agaricus family, as are cultivated mushrooms and field mushrooms. I think the ones we collected might be Agaricus campestris, commonly found in meadows and they best match the pictures. The French call them rosés des prés.
When picking from fields with stock in them, especially sheep, you must be very careful to cook them thoroughly or you can pick up parasites.
How to identify field mushrooms
For this easy mushroom soup recipe you will need
- 1 table spoon sunflower oil or butter
- 400 grams of wild or cultivated mushrooms
- 2 onions
- 1 bunch of watercress (or alternative greens)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock (homemade or stock cube)
- 2 egg yolks (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of double cream, creme fraiche, yogurt or similar (optional)
- 1 good tablespoon of pineau des Charentes, sherry or such like
- Pepper corns or ground pepper
This recipe is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Adapt the recipe by using vegetable equivalents. If you don't eat egg, thicken the soup with a little cornflour. You can add yeast extract or soy sauce to flavour and if you can't find a suitable substitute for dairy products, simply omit.
Substitute other green herbs in this mushroom soup
You can use watercress, but I don't have any so I substituted! I have lots of sorrel in the garden, thanks to the French partiality to the herb, and lots of dandelions, thanks to my inability to get round to the weeding!
You could also use landcress, lettuce, lambs lettuce, parsely, chickweed, nettles or a mixture of all these and others. Beware of using very strongly flavoured herbs like fennel as they could adversely affect the taste of the soup.
Chop the onions, mushrooms, garlic and greens
I have chopped the onions and mushrooms roughly, but cut the garlic into finer slices and then diced it, and the greens, because dandelion can be a little tough, I have shredded finely.
Add crushed pepper corns for extra bite
I have also added some pepper corns coarsley ground with a mortar and pestle. I love this peppery bite. You can also just use ground black pepper or any other pepper to hand.
Fry the mushrooms and onion gently
Heat the oil or butter in the pan and fry the mushrooms and onion gently for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped greens, garlic and stock, then simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Separate the egg yolks
Do this by cracking the egg carefully, opening up and letting the white drip out. The pass the yolk, carefully, into the other half of the shell, more white should come out.
Mix the cream and egg yolks together
After the soup has cooked turn off the heat. Add a little cooled soup to the egg yolk and cream mixture, then add to the soup and mix quickly. Bring back to the boil slowly, stirring all the time until thickened but don't boil.
To serve the mushroom soup
Add a good splash of Pineau, sherry, brandy or such like to taste. You can use the soy or yeast extract if you prefer, and give it a good stir.
Pour into the soup bowls and garnish with parsley, a swirl of cream if you are using a liquid cream; (my creme fraiche was too thick to do this), or you could add some blue cheese such as Stilton. I have used a local blue cheese, Fourme d'Ambert but our local Bleu d'Auvergne or Rochefort would also be perfect.
I served my mushroom soup in white, Limoges Porcelain bowls
When we opened our Guest House in Videix, we chose the famous Limousin Porcelain, and I think this strong but beautifully translucent china is both elegant and simple. The flowers are chrysanthemums, traditionally sold at this time to celebrate Toussaint.
Mushroom freezer tips
Can you freeze mushrooms? I wouldn't try to freeze mushrooms raw, but If you gather more wild mushrooms than you can use at once you can stew them, or make them into soup and then freeze them ready to add to dishes through the winter
Mushrooms are served
Here is the mushroom soup, served in the French sunshine, underneath our cherry tree. Why not join us for a break at Les Trois Chenes? We're about ten minutes away for the historic town of Rochechouart with it's magnificent chateau (or castle). The Chateau is now a center for contemporary art.
For more information contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also take a look at our web site www.lestroischenes.com or speak to me on +33 (0)5 55 48 29 84
We have a B&B, a lovely holiday cottage that sleeps 7 adults and we run painting holidays
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