Updated: Dec 24, 2020
At the moment we have amazing weather in the United Kingdom, so I decided on a stroll to a nearby forest. Luckily I found this beautiful Chicken of the woods mushroom growing on an old oak tree. I carefully picked a few younger parts suitable for frying and happily headed back home. Couldn't resist to also pick some of the stinging nettles that were growing nearby. This delicious soup is a result of my latest foraging adventure.
Makes 4 portions
200g (7oz) Chicken of the Wood mushroom (youngest parts further from the attachment side)
10g (0.33oz) of Stinging Nettle (washed youngest parts, before flowering)
1 medium onion, diced
50g (1.7oz) celery, diced
50g (1.7oz) leek, diced
1 small carrot, diced
300g (10.6oz) of broccoli chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp of sweet soy sauce (half the amount if using standard soy sauce)
1tbsp of butter
1L (1quart) of vegetable stock
1tbsp of thick yoghurt or sour cream plus extra for garnish
black pepper to taste
Begin by preparing the mushroom, remember to use younger parts as the old ones tend to be woodier in texture and sour in flavour. Wash the mushroom from the forest contaminants and slice it to thin pieces. Boil mushroom in salted water for about 10 minutes as this will help to soften its texture. When cooked remove from water and place on a plate for later use.
To prepare the soup, on medium heat in a medium pot, fry diced onion. celery, carrot and garlic. When coloured add chopped broccoli and cook for another 2 minutes. Cover everything with 1L (1quart) of vegetable stock (there should be enough liquid to cover all the vegetables so you may add a bit more). Simmer the soup covered with a lid for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, you can prepare some roasted nettle leaves to decorate your delicious soup. Place the frying pan on medium heat and add the smallest nettle leaves that you prepared, after a few seconds, they should start to dry out, turn around for another couple seconds, remove from the pan ready to be used later.
Now we can fry the mushroom, pan fry on medium heat with 1tbsp of olive oil. This step takes around 5-8 minutes, next glaze with 1tbsp of sweet soy sauce to coat and remove, place under tinfoil cover to prevent drying out.
When time is up for the soup, blend it with a blender and add stinging nettles, blend again (you want to see some parts of the nettle in the soup)
Now add 1tbsp of yoghurt or sour cream (mix it first with one ladle of the soup and then pour in) then mix in 1tbsp of butter.
Serve the soup with chicken of the woods stacked in the middle, garnish with roasted nettle leaves, black pepper and some yoghurt. I also had some sourdough bread with it.
Chicken of the woods mushroom prepared that way can be used for other recipes to substitute vegetarian protein, amazing in stir-frys, stews or as a snack.
To pick stinging nettles without hurting your fingers, use gloves and scissors. Wash in a bowl of cold water and dry with a paper towel.
Try to avoid Chicken of the Woods that grow on Yew trees as there are some statements of possible toxicity. Before eating any new mushrooms make sure it is the right one and consume a little amount first to see if there is any allergic reaction.
Adding herbs to the soups at the end of the cooking process helps to reduce nutrition loss, improves colour and flavour.