Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chanterelle Soup--About Polish Truffles

This is not really going to be about truffles, which are as hard to obtain in Poland as anywhere else in the world. This is going to be about chanterelles, which are a truly indigenous food in many countries of central and northern Europe.

In Poland, you can buy chanterelles everywhere these days, even alongside the road from Warsaw to my hometown. People who picked them in the neraby forest sell them to the passing by motorists. At the farmers' markets, which are held on Tuesday and Friday morning, city dwellers buy baskets full of freshly picked chanterelles.

I like mushrooms in general, but chanterelles are my favorite. They are available in DC at Costco but only in the fall, imported from Canada, or at Whole Foods, but are extremely expensive (about $40 per lb). So I cannot have enough of them now that I can have them in such abundance and cook them almost every day. Sometimes I add them to scrambled eggs for late breakfast, sometimes I serve then for dinner with spaetzle, pasta, or add them to a meat sauce.

I usually buy chanterelles that are smaller than those imported from Canada, and at today's farmers' market I found really tiny ones, so young and fresh that they looked like they were made from plastic. Those are usually more expensive  but, at about two dollars a pound, are still ridiculously cheap comparing to the U.S. prices. I got a couple of pounds of these beauties and forced my mother, who by now is really tired of my chanterelle diet, to cook a soup from them. It was fantastic and reminded me of my childhood years when such soups were served very often during summer dinners.

Chanterelle Soup

1 lb chanterelles--the smaller the better,
2 carrots,
3-4 medium potatoes,
1/2 small leek,
a small piece of celery root or 2 celery stalks,
1 small parsley root (if you can get it, it really adds the special aroma to the soup),
1/2 cup sour or heavy whipping cream,
2 tbsp butter,
2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves,
1 bay leaf,
3 grains of allspice,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Wash chanterelles. If they are very small leave them whole, if they are bigger, cut them into smaller pieces.
2. Melt butter on a frying pan and add mushrooms. Fry them until all the water released from them evaporates and they become slightly fried.
3. In a large pot, bring to boil about 6 cups of water with a tbsp of salt. Add all the vegetables (whole),bay leaf and allspice and cook for about 15 minutes.
4. Cut potatoes into small cubes and add to the boiling vegetables. Cook them for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes become soft. Remove celery, leek, carrot and parsley from the stock and discard all vegetables but the carrot. Cut the carrots into small pieces and add them back to the stock with potatoes. Add also the fried chanterelles and bring the soup to the boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Spice up with freshly ground pepper and extra salt, if needed.
5. If you use heavy whipping cream add it straight to the soup. If you use sour cream, mix it with a tsp of all purpose flour (it prevents the cream from curdling) to which you add a little bit of liquid from the soup, and then pour all of it back into the pot with the soup. Bring it to the boil again and cook for 2 minutes.

Serve with chopped flat parsely leaves.

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