I have a thing for wild mushrooms. I'm pretty sure that everyone who is into foraging does. See, at least for me, they're elusive. Earlier this year, I was out looking for chanterelles every day. I'd found them in this spot last year, so as far as I was concerned it was a no-brainer. Well, let me tell you. I found a whole bunch of plants that were very interesting (lemon balm gone feral- yes please!) but not a single chanterelle. For weeks. And it can be treacherous business, shuffling through the trees like that. Jamie had brought me home this cat hat that I was completely in love with. I'd been wearing it everywhere. So I'm snuffling in the undergrowth with this cat hat on and the next thing I know there is a very big, very unleashed dog barking and running at me at full speed. I panicked. My feet wouldn't move. When it was about 3 feet from me I yelled "DON'T BITE ME!" and it's owner called it off, having not realised that there was a person in the woods. I don't think my heart settled back down for about an hour. But I did find a mushroom that day.
And we have weird weather down here, and a weird climate, and so I just don't know if we get the same mushrooms everyone else talks about. I've heard of a random patch of morels in a vacant lot in Culver City. I've heard of white boletes growing in the Sierras (a 4-5 hour drive), but wild mushrooms, save chanterelles when I can actually find them, evade me.
So I bought them at the market instead. A whole bag of mixed wild mushrooms. Jam gawked at the price. I gawked at the price. But we bought them anyway. And I'm so glad we did.
Mushroom soup, made with wild mushrooms, is unbelievable. It's nothing like canned mushroom soup, and everything like a group of mushrooms are having a party on your tastebuds.
Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
2 tb olive oil
2 tb butter
3 cloves garlic
2 cups various mushrooms (mine were a combo of hedgehogs, morels, black somethings and a few others I didn't recognise), chopped. I used about 1 1/2 plus 1/2 cup rehydrated dried mushrooms.
2 tb herbs de provence (or a local herb mix of your choice :D)
2 cups chicken stock
1 tb arrowroot powder
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper to taste
In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the butter and olive oil, and add the garlic. Add the mushrooms, salt, peper and herbs, and cover for five minutes or so, reduce the heat, and allow to 'sweat'. Stir in the arrowroot and then the white wine. Simmer for a couple of minutes more, then add the stock and water. Cook for 15 minutes, until all the mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and stir in the cream.
Using an immersion blender, blend until the mushrooms are in small pieces. Stir in the parsley, and serve.