Delicious warming soup for Autumn and Winter, made with port to add a touch of luxury to this humble dish. Featured in The Target, Lincolnshire Echo, Retford Times, Good Taste Magazine and Wolds Scene Autumn 2016.
Few foods seem to represent Autumn more than the humble mushroom, the very image of fungi in a woodland setting seems to capture the season. Regular readers of my column will know that I love foraging for berries, nuts and fruits at this time of year. There is something so satisfying about transforming free bounty into something tasty. However, I must admit when it comes to fungus I’m not knowledgeable or brave enough to risk collecting anything other than field mushrooms. The scope for catastrophic consequences is too great, this is probably down to reading too many old cookbooks where fungi was treated with suspicion and derision. The Grete Herbal of 1526 said of “mussherons” that “There be two maner of them, one maner is deedly and sleath them that eateth of them and be called tode stoles”! In Gerards Herbal of 1633 he declared “Most of them do suffocate and strangle the eater” and in my 18th century copy of John Farleys “The London Art of Cookery”, he refers to them as “treacherous gratifications” and emphasises the need for those who are employed in collecting them to be extremely cautious.
Not surprisingly, given the negative press they have received through the ages, mushrooms have been feared and some believed them to possess supernatural properties too. Hardly surprising when ingesting the wrong sort can render you either a bit ill, deaths door ill, dead or hallucinating on “magic mushrooms”!
Evidence has been found in prehistoric lake dwellings of Switzerland, Germany and Austria that man has been eating fungus since the earliest of times. In ancient Greece and Rome, the Truffle was held in the greatest esteem and was then, as it is now highly prized. It’s refusal to be successfully cultivated and its elusiveness, continues to make these fungi amongst the most expensive foods in the world. Nothing could be further away from the generic tubs of white prepacked mushrooms to be found in supermarkets across the globe.
My recipe for you is Luxury Mushroom Soup and just calls for good quality cultivated mushrooms from your local greengrocer, nothing fancy! It is really worthwhile making your own soup, it tastes so much better than what you get out of a tin. With the exception of the port, it is a very economical recipe to make and you should get six portions out of this recipe. The inclusion of port is what gives it the luxurious depth of flavour and I think you would be hard pushed to get a better tasting soup.
Luxury Mushroom Soup
• 1 kg Mushrooms
• 100g Salted butter
• 150 ml Port
• 1 ½ litres of Chicken stock made with two chicken stock cubes
• 4 scant tbsp. plain flour
• Salt and White Pepper
• You will need a very large pan and ideally large measuring jug.
• Thinly slice mushrooms.
• Fry on a medium heat for five minutes in the butter and season with salt and white pepper. Keep stirring to coat the mushrooms well and the juices are released. Don’t be alarmed at the volume of mushrooms, they cook down a lot.
• Add flour and cook on a medium heat for five minutes, stirring continuously.
• Add in port, turn the heat up and keep stirring for five minutes.
• Start adding the stock slowly and keep stirring.
• When all of the stock is incorporated, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
• Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
• You can either serve the soup chunky as it is with some good bread or use a stick blender to whiz it up, it will still have a bit of texture to it.
• I preferred mine blended and finished off with a swirl of cream.
This soup is delicious served with my Medieval Maslin Bread or Ploughman’s Rolls. Both recipes can be found on www.rjhirstfamilybutchers.co.uk recipe section.