What’s cooking today: Make room for a shroom
This recipe for mushroom, potato and leek soup is wholesome mood-altering contentment to take the edge off the winter blues.
Our forests are brimming with mushrooms in winter – if you know where to look and what to pick.
In the Western Cape, Delheim Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch has just had the last of its annual Magic Mushroom Days, where Alec Scott from The Mushroom Box, offered guidance on growing your own, and Gary Goldman took guests on a mushroom hunt on the property’s forests.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Soup recipes to fend off the winter chill
If you missed that, and would still like to go foraging, Ichikolowa Mushrooms’ Dan the Mushroom Man’s your guy: he’s been foraging for about 23 years and knows his stuff. The cost is R350 per person, on Saturdays in a secret location. Find them on Facebook or visit their site.
I’m a keen observer but am too petrified of picking the wrong fungus and mistaking death caps for paddy straw mushrooms, or Galerina marginata for some nice friendly psilocybins. Then, it’s tickets, which is why I trust the experts to sell their food-friendly wares at markets such as the Neighbourgoods and Oranjezicht, or the retailers in my ‘hood.
Home-made mushroom soup is a zillion times better than any store-bought packet or canned variety. It’s quick and easy to make, hearty, and quite inexpensive. Plus — you can be as frugal or extravagant as you like, by adding truffle oil, porcini or whatever else you’d like to doll up this dish.
Small handful of dried porcini or shitake mushrooms
Three leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped
Four cloves of garlic, crushed
Two large potatoes, peeled
600g coarsely chopped mushrooms (preferably wild, so a mixture of shitake, oyster, shimeji, porcini, plus good old button mushrooms)
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
Two knobs of butter
A few generous lugs of olive oil
Handful of fresh thyme or tsp of dried thyme
Salt and white pepper to taste
Big handful of parsley, cleaned and stalks removed
2 tbsp cornflour, dissolved in a little water
Pinch of grated lemon rind
250ml whipping cream
A few splashes of soy sauce and/or Maggi Arôme seasoning, to boost the umami flavour (if preferred)
Optional: truffle oil or crème fraîche
Place dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover with warm water (not boiling as it toughens the mushrooms) and leave to soak for about an hour.
Heat a large casserole-type pan, add oil and butter, then saute leeks. Add mushrooms, potatoes, celery, garlic, herbs and seasoning. Saute on high for about a minute, then add the stock and boil for about 30 minutes. Add cornflour mixture to soup, stir until slightly thickened.
Take off the heat, leave to rest for about 10 minutes and blitz till smooth. You could also set aside some mushrooms for presentation. Season to taste, add some freshly crushed garlic (if you like garlic, this is the best time to do so in order to maximise flavour) and add cream.
Serve with crusty bread. DM
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.