Soup & ‘shrooms

If I’m going to manage to make Christmas Dinner for ten people, I’m going to have to make some parts of this foraging challenge a bit easier. So I’ve decided to go with soup for the first course of the meal.  I should be able to prepare this in advance, maybe even freeze it and reheat on the day.

Living near the east coast of Scotland could immediately open up seafood as an option. There is a thriving lobster and crab industry operating out of beautiful little villages where small boats take on the North Sea to raid it of its bounty. My hope is that I can persuade a fisherman to take me out on his boat and bag a couple of lobsters in exchange for a days labour, or figure out something to barter with him for some crabs.

In case that isn’t an option, the one delicious soup I can make is mushroom. I was trusted with the location of an abundance of Chanterelle mushrooms and this year I’ve been gathering a lot. If I’m going to use these fabulous fungi I am going to have to figure out a way of preserving them from the end of September through to the depths of winter.

One morning’s worth of foraging were dehydrated until they became crispy and brittle. The aroma was wonderfully concentrated, almost like apricots and forest floors, and these Chanterelles were put into swing top jars. After a little while however, they seem to have stopped being so crisp, and although still dried, they have developed a more rubbery texture in the sealed jar that they live in.

Another smaller expedition netted smaller mushrooms which I again planned to dehydrate, however I accidentally put the temperature too high and these became bullets. Really nice smelling bullets, but bullets nevertheless. Then inspiration it me and I ground them up into powder, with the intention of putting them in scrambled eggs, but I realised that what I had accidentally done was created Chanterelle bouillion! This lovely powder, when infused in warm water, makes a delicious mushroom stock, perfect for a Christmas mushroom soup.

If I am going to make a mushroom soup, I’d ideally like to have some mushrooms in it, so asked my fellow fungal finder how she kept them and she gave me a simple tip. Pop them, once cleaned, in a frying pan, heat them up to get the water out of them, let them go cold and then straight into a bag and into the freezer. Then, when needed, allow them to defrost and cook as normal. It was this method that I chose for the last batch of Chanterelles I foraged. In a couple of months, in the depths of winter and a year before I may make it for my feast, I’ll come up with a recipe for Chanterelle soup and use up the Autumnal bounty that three early morning walks harvested.

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