While Aly’s gone, we’ve been enjoying meals that wouldn’t appeal to her. Because the weather’s been so warm and dry, that hasn’t included as many soups as we usually like, but I did make wild mushroom soup while she was in Canada. Today’s wet and windy, so I’ll likely make it again today.
Aly adores hunting mushrooms, but she doesn’t like to eat them. I don’t like commercial cream of mushroom soup at all, but I really like homemade. We haven’t begun picking mushrooms yet this summer, but we have jars of dried chanterelles and hawkwings from previous summers available for our use.
We have a couple of mushroom soup recipes we like. The one I make comes from The Riversong Lodge Cookbook: World-Class Cooking in The Alaskan Bush by Kirsten Dixon (ask your local, independent bookstore). This book, by a fellow Alaskan and high-end chef, is a bit fancy for me, but I find that many of the recipes can be simplified to our situation. The recipe below is not a transcription of Ms. Dixon’s recipe—you’d need to go to the book for that—but my adaptation.
Wild Mushroom Barley Soup
(Adapted from The Riversong Lodge Cookbook)
2-4 cups dried wild mushrooms, broken into pieces
1 cup barley
½ cup canola oil
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 or more cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cream or milk
Soak dried mushrooms in hot water, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid.
Boil 4 cups of water. Add barley, cover, and simmer 25 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid, set barley aside.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add onions, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic, tossing to coat. Simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.
Make chicken stock, using mushroom and barley liquid for as much of the liquid as possible. Use real chicken stock if you have it, or use chicken bullion cubes.
Add barley, stock, and lemon juice to pan. Season to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in milk or cream and heat just to boiling. Serve immediately.
In place of fresh carrots, we used the 30-year old dried, canned carrot flakes that have served us so well in the past.
We only added enough milk to cool each bowl of soup slightly just before eating. That worked well for the first night. By the next night, the soup had thickened so nicely that we skipped adding any more milk.
A few brave mushrooms had peeked out of the forest soil during the dry spell. Now that we’ve had a little rain, we ought to see a lot more. The next batch might be made with fresh mushrooms instead of dried.