This is a great time of the year to go on a fungus foray. If you're worried about your identification skills, then it's best to go on an organised hunt with an expert. Your local wildlife trust, The Woodland Trust, the Forestry Commission, National Trust or similar organisations in your area often have this kind of activity at this time of the year and you're usually allowed to take your share home with you.
Of course, your fungi might be a little gourmet for soup, so you might like to google elsewhere for a more upmarket recipe for your spoils. However, if your haul includes field mushrooms, then this is the recipe for you. When I was little, we frequently visited my aunt and uncle near Swansea. One of my strongest memories from that time was going out mushrooming with my uncle. Their house was on common land and we had to get up early to beat one of the local smallholders to the pick of that day's crop.
I absolutely adore mushrooms. The merest mention of them in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings was enough to send me out to the nearest greengrocers immediately to get some when I was 10. I loved them grilled on toast back then. Whenever we visit NAH's aunt in Poole, garlic mushrooms always appear on the menu, even though she's not keen on them herself. I've combined both of these treats into a warming soup for November. Don't worry if you've not procured your own supply via a fungus foray, shop bought ones do equally as well, especially those from the budget end of the selection.
400g mushrooms (including stalks) wiped clean, but not peeled
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
3 fat garlic cloves (adjust according to how much garlic you like)
1 very thick slice of bread (white or brown - it doesn't matter which)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs - parsley works well
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Put the stock and mushrooms in a large pan and bring to the boil
- In the meantime peel and finely chop the garlic and add to the pan
- Add the bread, roughly crumbling it into the stock as you do so
- Add the herbs plus the freshly ground black pepper
- Once the mixture is boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
- Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary
- Turn off the heat and liquidise the soup
- Serve immediately with more fresh, crusty bread