Saturday, 1 November 2008

Medieval Mushroom Soup

NAME: _Medieval Mushroom Soup

1kg field or portobello mushrooms.  I find a large fieldie is better flavour than 30 shirtbuttons
250g white bread.  (See Notes - normal white bread is NOT good)
2tsp caraway seeds
2tsp salt
2 cups water (alternatively, 1cup water 1cup milk or beer - See Notes)
50g butter

Clean any growing medium (soil or straw etc) from the mushrooms, clean any spots that don't look nice.  Slice the mushrooms, turn, slice into straws, turn again and dice.  1/4" (5mm) cubes is fine enough.  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the caraway seeds and salt, fry lightly for a few minutes then add the mushrooms.  Frying the caraway seeds brings out the oils in them, and the flavour.

Fry the mushrooms until they have gone slightly soft, then add the liquid you're using.  Bring to boil, simmer for about an hour with the lid on.  Stir from time to time to stop it catching.

Cut the crusts from the bread (or dice your potatoes, See Notes) and add to the soup.  Bring to the boil again and simmer for another hour or so, again covered.  Check often to prevent catching. (Sticking to the bottom.)

You can blend this soup for a finer texture or for freezing, I generally leave it as is and there's never enough left to freeze...

Serve as is or with the same type bread you used to thicken, and butter.  Serves two people, be warned, they will come back for seconds!  

Normal supermarket white bread is no good for this, due to the plasticisers and stuff making the dough too clingy to make good thickening for the soup.  I use sourdough natural types of bread, and if I can't get those, arab or lebanese bread.  The amount of bread varies, I generally do three slices worth and then wait and see, adding more if it isn't thickened nicely.  

You can also add one or two medium potatoes, peeled and diced very small, this will thicken the soup without using wheat gluten, albeit not as much.  Potatoes can be pre-boiled or the inside of leftover roasted potatoes, as long as it's very fine and going to boil to thicken the soup.

Aside from trying water and milk, you can also try water and a good beer.  You'd be surprised how well that turns out... 

The reason it's "Medieval" is that it's made and thickened the old way, no additives no preservatives, and this recipe is mentioned in several medieval cooking books.

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