I love going to farmer’s markets and I also love visiting the farms where the fruit and vegetables are grown.  Sometimes though, what I buy at the farmer’s market does not come from a field, sometimes it comes from a forest and I find that very intriguing because this  food is harvested by foraging.

My interest in foraging was peaked because not long ago at the far end of our local market was a small booth set up with just one item for sale….mushrooms.  They were a type I had not seen before and I was intrigued, so I went over to investigate.  Behind the booth was a white haired, elderly, man who in another month might pass for St. Nick if you added a beard…he even had a very slight old world accent,  as if he had come to this country when he was a young man.

We started talking and I found out that the mushrooms he was selling were called honey mushrooms and that they were fairly rare and very prized.  I asked if he would have any next week and he said that he never knew what he was going to find in the woods and that it varied week to week.

I like the sound of that…walking in the woods and looking for your dinner…so much so that the next week I decided to look for myself…I wasn’t going to take any mushrooms that I found, because honestly, I don’t know enough about whether or not they are poisonous and many species of mushrooms are poisonous.  I just wanted to walk in the woods and see if I could be more observant than I had been in the past.  How many times had I walked by a potential dinner and not even known it.

At first I didn’t see anything, but I kept walking and discovered that on many of the fallen trees were some type of mushrooms.  I started taking some of the pictures that I am sharing with you just so you can see how beautiful they are.  I had walked past these trees many times and I had not seen the mushrooms.  How much do we pass that we really don’t observe?  I discovered that by looking for them, I found them and they were there all along, I’d just never taken the time to really look.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

These leaves will be with us just a few more days.

I do want to share with you an important WARNING, don’t hunt for mushrooms unless you are with an expert, MANY types are poisonous. To learn more, I recommend that you join a mushroom club and study field guides of mushrooms (but some species of mushrooms are hard to identify, even for the experts).

I’m just going to leave foraging to the pros, but it was wonderful to take this walk in the woods.

Maybe this Sunday you can take a walk with your family and friends in the fine, fall weather before your Sunday supper.

I asked how the mushroom vendor would prepare the bounty of the forest, and he said that he would make a fine soup.  I thought that sounded very tasty and appropriate for the season.

He suggested using beef stock, fingerling potatoes, carrots and caraway seeds.  He also said that a good substitute for honey mushrooms would be shitake mushrooms, so that is what I am using as an ingredient in this recipe.  I have to tell you, it’s the caraway in this recipe that makes it so special.  I recommend that you use a tea ball to hold the caraway seeds (the kind that you use to put loose tea in) when making this soup…you get all of the flavor… without the seeds.

Make it special, make it Sunday.

Old World Mushroom Soup Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 Minutes

Total Time: 35 Minutes

Perfect for a fall after a walk in the woods!

Ingredients:

6 cups beef stock (preferably homemade) chicken or vegetable stock would work as well
1 bunch carrots (approximately 5), peeled and sliced
1 pound fingerling potatoes, washed, slice larger ones in half and leave the little ones whole
3.5 ounce container of shitake mushrooms with stems removed, use whole or sliced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (place in a tea ball)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

I made my own beef stock with beef shank. I removed the meat from the bones and added it to the soup, but this is optional. I also strained the broth through cheese cloth for a clearer broth.
In a stock pot bring broth to a boil and add carrots and potatoes and tea ball with caraway seeds, cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pot and cook for 15 minutes till carrots and potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
Add meat (if you care to) and salt and pepper to taste.
Please note: I recommend using shitake mushrooms for this recipe.
Honey mushroom can have a slight toxicity: if you choose to use them in this recipe, please make sure that you cook them for 15 minutes to eliminate any toxic effects. Also, if using honey mushrooms, you need to make sure that they agree with you by eating just a small portion at first.
Serve!

Enjoy!