Mushroom Soup

Grzyby is the Polish word for mushrooms.

Mushroom gathering in Poland is a National pastime and has been in the past, a source of food and income for many.

Mushrooms can be dried, pickled, salted and marinated.

On those damp misty days in autumn when in England people would think – what a dull day,  a Pole would wake up and think – Great, a good day for gathering mushrooms!

Most Poles think the best dried mushrooms are Boletus edulis, in Poland they are called borowik, prawdzik or prawdziwek(translates as the real thing!), in Italy porcini and I try and use these whenever I can.

Packets of dried mushroom in England tend to be 25g or 30g and can be of mixed types.

My father knew all about mushrooms but never really passed the knowledge on to me – mainly because of the limited availbility of transport to suitable woods around where we lived in Lancashire.

On my first visit to Poland I did go to Białowieża forest and went with a guide and collected lots of mushrooms including chanterelles which in Poland are called kurki.

Dried mushrooms feature in many Polish dishes including ones made for Wigilia – Christmas Eve.

Nowadays, the common field mushroom – Agaricus bisporus – is produced on a huge scale and makes up a large part of commercial mushroom production with Poland being the 3rd biggest producer in Europe, following Italy and The Netherlands.

Mushroom soup in olden days was nearly always made with just dried mushrooms.

I make my soup with both dried and fresh mushrooms.

As with all soups the quantities do not have to be exact.

You can make your own vegetable stock or use cubes or powder.

 

 

Ingredients

25-30g of dried mushrooms – Boletus edulis are good.

250g of fresh mushrooms  – chestnut type are good.

Around 125ml of soured cream

1 onion – diced

Butter to fry the onion

1 – 1.5 litres of vegetable stock – can be from power or a cube (I use Marigold bouillon)

2 tablespoon of cornflour – optional

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chopped Flat-leaf parsley or chives to garnish

 

 

 

 

Method

Start the night before by preparing the dried mushrooms.

Put the dried mushrooms in a jug or bowl and add around 250ml of boiling water.

Leave the mushrooms overnight.

Strain the mushrooms from most of the liquor – saving this for later.

Chop the mushrooms into smaller pieces.

Gently simmer the mushrooms in a little of the liquor for about 5 minutes.

Gently fry the diced onion in some butter till they are golden.

Seperate the caps from the stalks of the fresh mushrooms.

Thinly slice the fresh mushroom caps  – if the caps are large cut the slices into 2 or 3.

Optional

If the stalks are not too “woody”  – chop them into very small pieces  – otherwise discard them.

Add the mushrooms to the onions, mix and fry gently.

Into a large pan or stockpot, add the onions and mushroom, the re-constituted mushrooms and the liquor from the soaked mushrooms and mix well.

Add the  vegetable stock and bring the mixture to the boil, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer.

You could put the pot into a low oven around GM2 – 150°C.

Allow to simmer for a couple of hours.

Add the soured cream and stir gently – check for seasoning.

or

Mix the cornflour with some of the soured cream, add and stir to thicken, then add the rest of the soured cream.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives to serve.

 

 

 

 

Served on Royal Doulton  – Carnation – 1982 – 1998  &  Queen Anne side plates – pattern name unkown.

Chocolate Orange Babka

This is a new recipe for a babka – it is very moist and tastes delicious.

I serve it just dusted with icing sugar but you could add a thin chocolate glaze.

Ingredients

225g Butter or Block Margarine

225g Caster Sugar

Finely grated zest and the juice of 1 orange

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of apricot jam

4 eggs

175g self raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

50g of cocoa

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C

Grease & flour well a large babka tin, tapping away any excess.

 

 

 

 

Beat well together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs well and gradually add them, beating the mixure after each addition.

Mix  in the vanilla essence, apricot jam, orange zest and juice.

In a seperate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa together.

Fold the flour mixture into the beaten mixture.

Spoon the cake mixture into the babka tin and level the top.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until the babka has risen and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin, then turn this out onto a wire cake rack to cool.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served on Crown – fine bone china – England (no pattern name given).

Potatoes – po nelsońsku

Po nelsońsku  –  in Lord Nelson’s style –  is when mushrooms and soured cream are added to the sauce. (I have not been able to discover why this name is used.)

In the traditional version of this dish, dried mushrooms are used and are soaked overnight.

I have also made a version with dried and fresh mushrooms.

Floury potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper are the best for this dish.

Packets of dried mushroom in England tend to be 25g or 30g and I have used a full packet for the recipe (you can use more).

The best dried mushrooms are Boletus edulis, in Poland they are called borowik or prawdzik, in Italy porcini.

Ingredients

1 kg of floury potatoes

10 -15g of dried mushrooms

2 onions

60ml of soured cream

250 ml of milk for soaking the mushrooms & 125ml (or more) for the sauce

100g of butter for frying the onions & the sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons of plain flour

Salt & pepper

 

Method

Start the night before by preparing the mushrooms. Put the mushrooms in a jug or bowl and add around 250ml of boiling water. When this has cooled add around 250ml of milk.

Leave the mushrooms overnight.

Alternately you could start this very early in the morning and make the dish in the evening.

Boil the potatoes till nearly cooked and leave them to cool.

Slice the potatoes into around 2cm thick slices.

Strain the mushrooms from most of the liquor – saving this for the sauce.

You can chop the mushrooms into smaller pieces if you want.

Gently simmer the mushrooms in a little of the liquor for about 5 minutes.

Make a sauce by first melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add the flour, stir together with a wooden spoon and gently cook until you have a thick roux.

Slowly add the liquor from the soaked mushrooms and mix and heat till you have a thick sauce.

Add more milk if needed – you want a very thin pouring sauce.

Then add the soured cream and mix together.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C

 

 

Halve the onions and thinly slice and then fry them till golden in some butter.

Butter a deepish ovenproof glass or ceramic dish.

Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom followed by the onions, then the mushrooms, some of the sauce and finish with a top layer of potatoes.

 

Season with salt and pepper as you go along.

Pour the rest of the sauce over the top.

Depending on the size and depth of the dish you could have more layers but always start and finsh with potatoes.

Bake in the oven for at least an hour (You can lower the temperature and leave to cook for much longer).

This goes well served with roast chicken or pork.

 

Served on Royal Doulton – Tapestry  1966 – 1988

Ingredients – Version 2

This has fewer dried mushrooms & fresh mushrooms are added.

1 kg of floury potatoes

10g of dried mushrooms

100 – 150g of  fresh mushrooms (chestnut type are good)

250 ml of milk for soaking the mushrooms & 125ml (or more) for the sauce

100g of butter for frying the onions, mushrooms & the sauce

2 onions

2 to 3 tablespoons of plain flour

60ml of soured cream

Salt & pepper

Method – Version 2

Start the night before by preparing the mushrooms. Put the mushrooms in a jug or bowl and add around 250ml of boiling water. When this has cooled add around 250ml of milk.

Leave the mushrooms overnight.

Alternately you could start this very early in the morning and make the dish in the evening.

Boil the potatoes till nearly cooked and leave them to cool.

Slice the potatoes into around 2cm thick slices.

Strain the mushrooms from most of the liquor – saving this for the sauce.

You can chop the mushrooms into smaller pieces if you want.

Gently simmer the re-constituted mushrooms in a little of the liquor for about 5 minutes.

Thinly slice the fresh mushroom caps and fry them gently in butter.

 

Mix the two types of mushrooms together.

Make a sauce by first melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add the flour, stir together with a wooden spoon and gently cook until you have a thick roux.

Slowly add the liquor from the soaked mushrooms and mix and heat till you have a thick sauce.

Add more milk if needed – you want a very thin pouring sauce.

Then add the soured cream and mix together.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C

Halve the onions and thinly slice and then fry them till golden in some butter.

Butter a deepish ovenproof glass or ceramic dish.

Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom followed by the onions, then the mushrooms, some of the sauce and finish with a top layer of potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper as you go along.

Pour the rest of the sauce over the top.

Depending on the size and depth of the dish you could have more layers but always start and finsh with potatoes.

Bake in the oven for at least an hour (You can lower the temperature and leave to cook for much longer).

This goes well served with roast chicken or pork.

Version 3 – Less Expensive & Quicker

In Poland there are mushroom stock cubes which are very useful especially for making sauces.

Years ago I brought loads back to England, now you can find these in the many Polish food shops.

The ones I use are made by Knorr.  These stock cubes contain a small amount of dried mushroom extract.

 

Dissolve the stock cube im 250ml of  hot water, when this has cooled add around 250ml of milk.

Increase the amount of fresh mushrooms to 150 – 200g.

Follow the instructions as  for Version 2.

Placek – Derbyshire Inspired

A few months ago I went on a craft week in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) and as always I was looking out for new recipes and ideas.

I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt.  Now in the past, every cake I have made with yoghurt in the ingredients was not a success with it either being straight to bird table or straight to bin!

Anyway, I tried this one out and was really pleased with the results.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt and I am sure low or no fat yoghurt would not do! – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

I have made a few alterations to the original recipe.

It is similar to a Polish placek (flat cake) and baked in a rectangular tray.

Ingredients

250g butter or block margarine

225g caster sugar

150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or the fine grated rind of 1 lemon

280g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Blackcurrant jam or sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam

50g of dessicated coconut

Method

Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180 C

Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla essence or lemon rind.

Mix together the flour and the baking powder.

Beat together the butter and sugar .

Add the yoghurt and egg mixture and beat well.

Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.

Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.

Drench the top with the coconut and quickly put it back in the oven.

Bake for around another 25 minutes.

 

 

 

Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.

Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

As a nod to Derbyshire, I used my Royal Crown Derby – Derby Posies – teaplates to serve.

They are marked  XXV which indicates 1972.

Variations

I think that the basic batter of this cake lends itself to quite a few variations – I intend to try some of these out in the coming months.

Zupa – Soup

Zupa is soup in Polish – it is a huge topic and I could easily write a book on soups alone.

The words zupa and soup originate from either the French soupe which is a broth or the German sop which is bread used to soak up soup or the Italian zuppa which is a country vegetable soup.

I intend to cook and write about soups in 2019.

Soup is traditionally the first course of the main meal of the day – served usually sometime between 12.30pm to 5pm.

For a larger occasion, the first course can be a cold starter,  followed by the soup and then the main course.

My cousins in Poland found it hard to imagine a meal without a soup to start with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Makłowicz, a Polish TV chef and cookery writer, writes  in one of his books

Polak bez zupy robi się smutny –  A Pole without soup becomes sad.

Nina Froud is a cookery book writer & editor of the 1961 & 1977,  English translations of the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique.

 

In an introduction to Polish food in Country Cooking, published in 1978, she wrote:

“Poles are hearty but discriminating eaters … they like food unashamedly and are clever at producing delicious dishes from simple and inexpensive ingredients.”

This I think is very true and especially so in the making of soup.

 

There are so many, many soups – where do I begin?

  • hot soups
  • chilled (cooling) soups
  • fruit soups
  • milk soups

12 Well-Known Polish Soups in Alphabetical Order

  • Barszcz ………….. Beetroot
  • Fasolowa ……….. Bean
  • Grochówka …… Pea
  • Grzybowa ……… Mushroom
  • Kapuśniak ………Cabbage
  • Kartoflanka …… Potato
  • Krupnik …………..Barley
  • Ogórkowa ……… Gherkin
  • Pomidorowa ….. Tomato
  • Rosół ………………..Chicken
  • Szczawiowa …… Sorrell
  • Żurek ……………… Sour Rye

    These are just a start!

 

Soups are served with  Garnishes & Accompaniments

 

 

Polish Fairy Tale about Soup

My mother used to tell this story to me when I was young – I loved it then and since I have cooked myself I love it even more.

My mother would vary the ingredients so that each time she told it, it could be a different recipe!

Here is a shortened version of the story –

Once upon a time a stranger, with a knapsack on his back,  comes to a village and sits down on a path.

He gets out a little cooking pot and pours in some water from a container and lights a little fire underneath and sits waiting for the water to boil.

Whilst waiting he unwraps a shiny stone which was covered in a linen cloth and pops this into the water.

Slowly the villagers come out, curious to see what he is doing.

They ask him what he is doing – “making Magic Stone Soup – the best soup in the world” he replies.

As the water starts boiling the stranger takes out a ladle and takes a sip.

The villagers ask him how it tastes.

“Good”says the stranger “but would taste even better with some potatoes”

“I can get some potatoes” said an old man, who then went off to get them.

The stranger peeled and chopped the potatoes and added them to the pot.

After a few minutes the stranger again takes a sip of the soup, saying it tastes good but that it would taste even better with some onions.

“I can get some onions” said an old woman, who then went off to get them.

The stranger peeled and chopped the onions and added them to the pot.

….here my mother would go on adding ingredient after ingredient, varying them every time she told the story ….

The stranger again takes a sip of the soup, saying it tastes good but that it would taste even better with some salt & pepper.

“I can get that” says a young boy who then went off to get some.

When he comes back the stranger seasons the soup and declares it nearly ready.

“It just needs some flat leaved parsley to garnish it”.

“I can get some” says a young girl.

When she returns the stranger chops the leaves and sprinkles them on the soup.  

The stranger then ladles generous servings of it into bowls and handed them around to all the villagers and also has a bowl himself.

He then takes out the stone, wipes it dry and puts it away into his knapsack.

 

Celeriac with Prune Sauce

I have just tried another recipe  from my new Polish cookbook. It is for cooked celeriac – I adapted it slightly to make it – it is truly delicious.

Ingredients

1 large (or 2 small ) celeriac

150g pitted prunes

75g raisins or sultanas

125ml soured cream

2 -3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish sauce

Juice of 1 or 2 lemons

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Cook the celeriac – I find steaming the best option – leave it to cool and then peel away the outer layer and cut the flesh into cubes. ( You can do this some time beforehand.)

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Cover the raisins with boiling water and leave to soak.

Cover the prunes with boiling water and simmer them gently for around 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Add the soured cream, horseradish sauce, raisins and lemon juice to the prunes and mix together.

 

Add salt & pepper to taste.

 

 

Mix the cubed celeriac with the prune sauce place the mixture in an oven proof dish and cook for at least 30 minutes.

 

This goes well with hot roast meats such as chicken and especially pork.  (I have used the prune & pork combination in other recipes.)

Variations

I think this sauce would go well with other vegetables such as kohlrabi or white turnip.

Szarlotka

Szarlotka is the word my mother used for (apple) crumble.

In some parts of Poland szarlotka is the word used for an apple cake.

I wanted to create a cake that was cross between a cake and a crumble.

I have used half the quantity from my apple cake (jabłecznik) recipe as the base and then used a drier crumble type mixture – called kruszonka in Polish – for the top.

I have already done this  for a rhubarb cake, so I have revisted this recipe.

I have adjusted the recipe to use just one type of flour (plain) and one type of sugar (granulated) to make it  easier.

Apple Filling

You can use an apple filling with just apples and sugar with the addition of cinnamon.

Sometimes in Poland raisins or sultanas are added to the apples.

As I had some homemade, fruit mincemeat left from last year to use up (made from Delia Smith’s recipe but without nuts) before I made this year’s batch,  I added some of this to the apples.

Ingredients

4 to 6 Bramley Apples

Granulated Sugar to taste – keep it slightly tart

A little water

4 tablespoons of mincemeat

Method

Make the apple filling first, even the day beforehand as it needs to be cold before you use it.

Peel and core the apples and cut them into thick slices.

Stew the apples gently with some sugar and very little water. You can make this in a saucepan on the stove or place the apples and sugar in a dish in the oven.

Do not add a lot of sugar at the beginning as it does not want to be too sweet, you can adjust the sweetness at the end.

Do not make it too much of a purée, cook it so that you have some soft apples but with some harder less cooked chunks as well.

Leave this to be completely cool.

Mix in the mincemeat.

 

Note

When I have lots of apples, I cook a large amount and portion this up and keep them in the freezer –  add the mincemeat when making the cake.

Base

150g  flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

100g butter or block margarine

40g granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or water.

Topping (kruszonka)

120g plain flour

90g butter or block margarine

60g granulated sugar

Method

Base

You have to use a loose bottom or spring-form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.

I use a loose bottomed anodised aluminium cake tin which is 22cm in diameter and 8cm deep.

Grease the tin well.

First make the cake base by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs, then stir in the sugar.

Add the yolk and lemon juice and bring the ingredients together to form a soft dough – do not handle the dough too much.

Pre heat the oven to GM 4 – 180ºC.

Make the dough into a rough flat circle and press it into the base of the tin

Topping

Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs and then stir in the sugar.

Put the  apple mixture on top of the base – it wants to be quite a thick layer.

Sprinkle the topping crumbs over the apple mixture.

 

Bake in the oven for around 1 hour.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Use a long metal spatula to ease the cake from the side of the tin, then place the cake on to the top of a tin can and slide the side down.

 

 

Teaset here is  Woodside by Royal Grafton, 1940 – 1959