Today is a mushroom soup day. The half-term school break was really busy, added to which, I’ve been flu-fighting. Polish wild 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. This is a lovely, simple family recipe, rich, yet simple to bring together allowing the mushrooms to speak for themselves.
A a really good, Polish mushroom soup is very often made with foraged mushrooms, since mushroom hunting is a national pursuit in Poland. 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.
I also separately cooked and added some kasha or kasza, which are pearl or hulled barley 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. 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.
There’s also a Mushroom Soup recipe in my book on Modern Polish Recipes called Wild Honey and Rye, as well as recipes for Rosoł (Polish Chicken Soup), Sour Gherkin Soup, Beetroot Soup and my Mama’s Tomato Soup.
Polish Wild Mushroom Soup
A a really good Polish wild mushroom soup is very often made with foraged mushrooms, since mushroom hunting is a national pursuit in Poland. I used some beautiful winter chanterelles (kurki in Polish) but you could very easily use a mixture of dried forest mushrooms with a few fresh mushrooms thrown in. It's worth the extra step making the stock, but if you are short on time, you could use shop-bought stock, too.
To make the fresh stock:
- 1 kg pork ribs (omit for vegetarian version)
- 2 carrots
- 2 onions
- 2 stick celery
- 10g fresh parsley
- 2 litres of water
- 1 bay leaf
- 2– 3 allspice berries
Or, use 1.5 litres of shop-bought or stock made with chicken or mushroom stock cubes
- 40g dried mixed forest mushrooms, soaked in 1 cupful hot water
- A handful of fresh mushrooms, such as chanterelle, chopped
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, very finely chopped
- 150 ml double cream
- 100 g wide egg noodles or kasza (barley groats)
- 3 tsp cornflour (optional) mixed with a little cold water
- Fresh parsley to garnish
- 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 pour over 1.5 litres of cold water. Add the parsley, bay leaf and allspice berries. Simmer the stock on a very gentle heat (barely boiling) for an hour. Skim any foam that forms with a large spoon and discard. Strain the stock. You can use the pork ribs to make these roasted ribs.
- For the mushroom soup: Strain the soaked mushrooms to remove grit. Chop the mushrooms finely. In a large pan, add the butter and olive oil. Cook the onions for 5-10 minutes until soft.
- Add the mushrooms and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour in the strained rib stock that you made earlier (or 1.5 litres of bought stock) and bring to a boil. Add the liquid from the soaked mushrooms too, avoiding the grit. Simmer for 25 minutes.
- To finish: Cook the pasta or kasza/grains according to instructions and drain.
- Stir in the cream. If you would like a thicker texture to the soup add the cornflour and stir well. Simmer gently for a further 5 minutes.
- Place the pasta or kasza in the serving bowls and ladle over the soup.
- Garnish with parsley. Smacznego! (Bon appétit!)