Recipe: Polish Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushrooms

Today is a mushroom soup day. The half-term school break was really busy, added to which, I’ve been flu-fighting. Mushroom soup reminds me of home. I crave warmth, and a strong, earthy flavour when I am sick.  A hearty bowl of soup, a thick blanket and a book offers the perfect feel-better combination. I am very close to grabbing a hot water bottle in the absence of a real log fire. Today, I’m sharing a Wild Mushroom Soup recipe by Anya Lipska, who is the author of a new crime thriller/novel called Where The Devil Can’t Go, published by The Friday Project. It’s a lovely recipe, rich, yet simple to bring together allowing the mushrooms to speak for themselves.

Wild Mushrooms

I usually review cookery books, so this is a departure from the norm for me. Where The Devil Can’t Go is a thriller, but it amused me and caught my attention, since it is set mainly in London, around a cast of characters from the Polish community. There’s a new trend, you might have noticed, towards all thing Polish, happily for me.  The author of this book, Anya Lipska, weaves in Polish names, memories, proverbs, and of course, references to food as the story unfolds. I definitely think there’s room for more Polish drama or a thriller of some sort, and I especially love the fact that one review reads, “RIP Nordic crime. Here come the Poles.”  If you watched Spies in Warsaw, with the gorgeous David Tenant, you’ll know what I mean. I also think there would be scope for some sort of  Polish interpretation of the Danish political drama Borgen, which I’ve also been hooked on, too. Anya is also a TV producer, so you never know. The title of the book is a shortened version of a Polish proverb, ’Where the Devil can’t go, he sends a woman’, and the story follows Janusz, a Pole living in the UK, who is asked by his local Polish priest to try and assist with the disappearance of a young Polish woman. The story is well-written and it kept my intrigue and attention throughout. If you know a little Polish, or want to pick up the odd word, you will; though be warned, some of it is heavy-duty swearing. I also appreciated the culinary references; Poles are always happy to be reminded of home through food. Janusz enjoys his hunter’s stew, or bigos, with “slivers of duck, as well as the usual pork and kielbasa, poking through the sauerkraut”, as well as cooking dishes he remembers from home. The main thrust of the plot though, is the investigation of a young woman’s murder and the disappearance of another which leads Janusz to return home to Gdansk to look for clues.  As a crime thriller set in the East End, this book offers an interesting contemporary angle, with its modern Polish references and twists, which set it apart from the more typical novels or thrillers I’ve read  recently.

Wild Mushrooms

Back to the food, a really good, wild mushroom soup, very often made with foraged mushrooms, since mushroom hunting is a national pursuit in Poland, is exactly the kind of thing that you’ll get in any Polish home or restaurant. I used some beautiful winter chanterelles (kurki in Polish) from Natoora UK, but you could very easily use a mixture of dried forest mushrooms (boletas/borowki/prawdziwki or porcini are the best) with a few fresh chestnut mushrooms thrown in. My mother adores mushroom hunting, just as her mother did, and the throw-back to my childhood is almost instantaneous whenever I cook with mushrooms. I’m very much looking forward to going foraging again when it’s time.

Mushroom Soup

I also separately cooked and added some kasza, which are pearl barley groats or Masurian groats, which you’ll find in any Polish deli or shop. They added extra substance, and also made this meal stretch much further, since wild mushrooms can be expensive, particularly when out of their usual season. If you can’t find kasza, you could add whole pearl barley, or even some wild rice. Anya suggests adding noodles or tagliatelle to her version. You’ll also see instructions below for making a fresh stock, with or without pork ribs) but you can also use a porcini mushrooms cube stock or any vegetable stock as an alternative.

Polish Wild Mushroom Soup

From Ren Behan | Soups

Adapted from a recipe by Anya Lipska

11:30
10:00
01:30

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 125 gram dried fresh mushrooms (preferably boletas or porcini) soaked overnight in a jug containing 500 ml of cold water
  • A handful of fresh mushrooms, such as chanterelle (optional)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 100 g wide egg noodles or kasza ( barley groats)
  • 3 tsp cornflour (optional)
  • Parsley to garnish
  • The stock:
  • 1.5 litres of good shop-bought stockbeef or pork, or vegetable if making vegetarian version
  • OR to make stock:
  • 1 kg pork ribs (omit for vegetarian version)
  • 1 carrot
  • Large sprig parsley
  • I stick celery
  • 2 onions
  • 2 litres of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2- 3 Allspice berries

Directions

  1. To make the stock: Roughly cut up the carrots, celery and onion. Add them to a large pot with with the pork ribs (if using) and bring to boil in 1.5 liters of water with parsley, bay leaf and allspice berries. For vegetarian stock simmer for 20 minutes; meat stock for an hour or so (semi-covered so not too much evaporates). Strain.
  2. For the mushroom soup: Strain the soaked mushrooms through a fine sieve to remove grit, trying to leave as much sediment as possible behind in the jug. Chop all of the mushrooms. Finely chop the onion and sweat with the mushrooms in butter over a low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured. Add the strained stock, season bring to the boil. Also add the mushroom water, straining again to eliminate grit. Cook for around an hour to release the full flavour of the dried mushrooms.
  3. To finish: Cook the pasta or kasza according to instructions and drain.
  4. If you like a thicker texture, combine the cornflour with a little cream in a jug, add a few spoonsful of the soup to it and mix. Add this mixture to the soup off the heat, stirring constantly and simmer gently to cook out the flour.
  5. Place the pasta or kasza in the serving bowls and ladle over the soup.
  6. Garnish with parsley. Smacznego! (Bon appétit!)

With many thanks to Anya Lipska for the recipe and to The Friday Project for sending me Where The Devil Can’t Go, to read. You can buy a copy of the book here.

Where The Devil Can't Go

Comments

    • Ren says

      Thank you Andrea. I do love Chicken Soup too and actually made some yesterday! I have a great slow cooker chicken soup recipe – so easy and tasty! I’m off to read the post for more info on the healing powers. Thanks for sharing.

  1. says

    My aunt and uncle used to forage for mushrooms every autumn and when I visited Poland, people sat by the side of the road with a huge array for sale. Obviously can’t get them here in Dubai but might make a porcini mushroom version. Get well soon

    • Ren says

      I’d love to visit during the real mushroom season to see all the people at the side of the roads – I imagine it is still the same. Hope you enjoyed your birthday xx

  2. Betsy Mickanuck says

    Thankyou so much for this Mushroom soup recipe……my Mom has passed away a few years ago,so I’m trying to make her recipes as I really miss all the Polish food. I am making your recipe for Christmas Eve dinner this year and just had a sample taste……very delicious and tastes exactly like my mom used to make!
    Thankyou! Merry Christmas!
    Beata :)

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