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.

Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls -with Mushroom Sauce

Cabbage Rolls in the style of Dom Polonii in Kraków.

Kraków
Kraków
Kraków
Kraków
Kraków

In Kraków, just off the main square (Rynek Główny), there is a building called Dom Polonii (The House of the Poles).  It is a medieval tenement building and hosts Chopin concerts in a lovely room with a grand piano on the first floor. I have enjoyed listening to many concerts there. On the ground floor there is a small restaurant.  On my trips to Kraków I have found that  I eat there the most as it is very reasonably priced and the food  is very much like home cooking.

They serve gołąbki there which are cooked without  tomatoes and then served with a creamy mushroom sauce.

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The following is my recreation of this recipe.

First I made the gołąbki as in my previous post but without tomato purée in the cooking stock but adding some lemon juice as this prevents the leaves from falling apart too quickly.

I will give a quick re-cap of this recipe at the end of this post.

Then I made  a mushroom sauce and served the gołąbki with this poured on the top.

Mushroom Sauce

I looked through my Polish cookbooks and many of the mushroom sauces are made with just dried mushrooms.  These are delicious and have a strong flavour however it works out very expensive and are not available everywhere.

I am going to  give instructions for a sauce using fresh mushroom and just a small amount of dried mushroom.

I will give 2 versions of this mushroom sauce, the first using dried mushrooms, the second a mushroom stock cube.

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

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Knorr – mushroom stock cubes

In Poland there are now 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 and are shown on the photographs in this post.  These stock cubes contain a small amount of dried mushroom extract.

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The 2 sauces have the same starting points it is the addition of reconstituted mushrooms or stock cubes for the extra taste which is the difference.

Mushroom sauce 1 – using dried mushrooms

Ingredients

150g fresh button mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

5g of  dried mushroom (around 3 slices)

500ml hot boiling water

1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour

3 tablespoons of milk

2 large tablespoons of soured cream.

butter to cook the mushrooms in

salt & pepper to taste

Method

You have to start this sauce the night before or in the morning for use in the evening.

Cover the dried mushrooms with 500ml of boiling water and leave to soak.

 

Preparing Dried Mushrooms
Dried Mushroom in Hot Water
Dried Mushroom in Hot Water

 

 

 

 

 

The following day take out the reconstituted mushrooms and using a knife you can chop then up into tiny pieces or if the are soft enough you can  spread out the pulp on a chopping board.

Reconstituted Mushrooms
Reconstituted Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Mushrooms

Slice the mushroom caps into fine slices and fry them gently in some butter till they are soft.

Add the dried mushroom pulp and the liquor in which they were seeped.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes.

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In a little dish mix the cornflour with the milk.

Add the cornflour mixture to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently over the heat until the sauce thickens.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Remove from the heat and add the 2 large spoonfuls of soured cream and mix well in.

sau5

Note

None of these amounts are exact – they are a rough guide depending on what you have – you can use more water, milk or soured cream and so on.

Mushroom sauce 2 – using a mushroom stock cube

Ingredients

150g fresh button mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

500ml hot boiling water

1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour

3 tablespoons of milk

2 large tablespoons of soured cream.

butter to cook the mushrooms in.

note

I rarely have to add any more salt or pepper as the stock cube has enough seasoning in it.

Method 

Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water.

Preparing a Mushroom Stock Cube
Preparing a Mushroom Stock Cube

Slice the mushroom caps into fine slices and fry them gently in some butter till they are soft.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a little dish mix the cornflour with the milk.

Add the cornflour mixture to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently over the heat until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and add the 2 large spoonfuls of soured cream and mix well in.

If you can get the stock cubes then version 2 is the quickest.

Basic gołąbki recipe without tomatoes

Ingredients

1 large head of white cabbage or Savoy cabbage*

400g rice

500g of minced beef or pork

Chicken  stock – a cube or concentrate will do

salt & pepper

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both

juice of 1 or 2 lemons.

*As you need whole largish cabbage leaves I sometimes use 2 cabbages to get the bigger leaves. Recently I have started to use Sweetheart cabbage which has large leaves on the outside but you will most likely need 2 of these.

Instructions from my Polish cookbook
Instructions from my Polish cookbook “bible”

You need to parboil the rice in salted water so that it is about half way to being cooked and then strain the rice and let it go cold, but if you have some plain boiled rice left from another day you could use this, as this is not critical.

In a large bowl mix the rice and minced meat and add salt and pepper. The exact amounts do not matter. I like it to look about 50/50 white and pink but these can be made with much more rice to eke out the meat available.

Next comes the hardest part and patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.

You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head. I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan with some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil to quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves.

Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled.

As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves.

Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Place a small handful of the rice & meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf and roll up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.

 

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Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.

A tip I got from my late cousin, Krystyna,  is to use extra cabbage leaves on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.

The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.

Make a large amount of stock with hot water and lemon juice and add bay leaves, peppercorns and allspice.

Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.

Cover with the lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.

I always think these taste better when made a day before hand and left for the liquid to seep in more and then reheated in the oven as required.

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In the style of Dom Polonii

Sprinkling some chopped dill or flat leaf parsley on the top will be even better (Sadly I did not have any  on the day of this photograph).