A Taste of Fall in the Northwest: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Earlier this month, as I walked into the West Seattle PCC, I saw a display of freshly foraged wild mushrooms, a sure sign that fall and the first of the season's rains have arrived. Although I gasped at the price of the Chantrelles - close to $30/lb. - I reminded myself that mushrooms weigh next to nothing. The recipe below calls for 4 cups, and when you buy small amounts of different varieties, it isn't as expensive as you might think.
Besides, fresh, wild mushrooms aren't available year around. You have to enjoy them when you can. I've tried dried mushrooms and the result is just not the same. And please, unless you are a mycologist, do not try to save money by eating mushrooms you find popping up in your yard or in the wild. The results could be lethal.
Before you plan a foraging trip to the grocery store, you might want to read Becky Selengut's article on mushrooms, "A Flavor Focused Guide." She'll help you decide which varieties will combine to make the perfect wild mushroom soup for you.
Here's the recipe I've used, with various modifications, for decades. Enjoy!
Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups chopped or sliced mushrooms: your choice of available wild mushrooms, plus Crimini, Shiitake, or white button mushrooms to taste.
2 leeks, chopped (use the white parts with just a little of the light green)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups low fat milk
2 - 3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons cooking sherry
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/2 teaspoon fresh leaves
Dash of white pepper
Melt butter in a large saucepan or soup pot.
Add mushrooms, leeks, and garlic. Saute over medium heat for 3 - 4 minutes, until leeks and mushrooms begin to soften.
Sprinkle flour over the mix and stir quickly to coat.
Add the milk and broth, stirring continuously to prevent lumps.
Bring soup to a simmer. DO NOT bring to a boil or the milk will separate and ruin the creaminess of the soup.
Simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
This soup tastes decadently rich, but it is probably less than 200 calories per serving. The richness comes from the mushrooms. If you want to make it a bit more KETO-friendly, though, omit the flour and substitute cream for the low fat milk. You could fry bacon and crumble bits of it to use as a garnish.
Some of my friends love this dish so much, they call it THE Soup. To me it is one the best flavors of fall and a simple celebration of the riches of our region.