The first time I saw the word Hungarian describing mushroom soup, I was perplexed. I am a descendent of grandparents who came to the United States from Hungary when they were young adults. My mother was 100% Hungarian. I don’t remember ever seeing mushroom soup on the dinner table. No, I’m sure if I’d grown up eating Hungarian Mushroom Soup, I would have always enjoyed eating the earthy fungi.
The truth is, I’ve never cared for mushrooms. The texture, the taste — not for me. Since last August, that’s all changed. My transformation from mushroom-challenged to fungi-infatuated began with an unexpected hunt for chanterelles when I was in Duluth. It developed further when a farmer in Frazee, Minnesota shared some of his freshly-harvested shiitake mushrooms with me. A recent weekend at Fall Mushroom Camp at Little Elbow Lake Park on the White Earth Indian Reservation clinched it. Done deal. I’ve become a lover of fresh mushrooms. Stuffed, stir-fried, paired with pasta or simmered in soup, I eat them. I’ll admit, it’s a remarkable transformation.
At Mushroom Camp, I thought it best to try to learn to identify just two or three edible wild mushrooms. I focused on Shaggy Manes, Lobster Mushrooms and Honey Mushrooms. Now, after spending time at Camp with very experienced mushroom foragers as my teachers, I feel confident I can safely harvest and eat these three mushrooms.
Morning walks with my dog, Gracie, have become forays. I wear my hiking boots so we can veer into the woods when I spot oak trees, a honey mushroom’s favorite place to propagate. With my “mushroom eyes” turned on, I hunt for honeys.
I was surprised to find honey mushrooms growing right in my own yard. I discovered a large cluster of the mushrooms growing at the base of an oak tree.
In no time, I had a small basket filled with honey mushrooms from my yard.
I made a pasta dish with some of the mushrooms. That recipe is in my column this week. Then, I dug out my Hungarian cookbooks in search of a recipe for soup. Last week I hosted my Simple, Good and Tasty Book Club for our monthly meeting. We decided on a mushroom potluck dinner. One of the members brought Hungarian Mushroom Soup. The recipe I’m sharing with you is an adaptation of that recipe combined with a couple of variations in my Hungarian cookbooks.
I served my Hungarian Mushroom Soup with Bacon, Green Pepper and Tomato Sandwiches today. Full of creamy mushrooms, dill weed and paprika, the soup is marvelous.
I looked back at some pictures I took when I was in Hungary a few years ago. Sure enough, I spotted honey mushrooms in a shot I took at Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok) in Budapest.
I’m hooked on mushrooms. I find it thrilling to forage for them — it’s a wonderful way to enjoy a Fall day of sunshine and crisp air.
And, my Hungarian taste buds relish this Mushroom Soup.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (honey mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms or cremini mushrooms work well)
- 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
- 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra for serving
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Melt butter in soup pot. Add chopped onion, green pepper and carrot. Saute 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add garlic. Saute 2 or 3 minutes more. Add mushrooms. Saute 5 minutes.
Add dill weed, paprika, soy sauce and 2 cups of the broth. Bring soup to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk milk and flour together until mixture is smooth. Pour into soup, stirring well to blend. Cover pot and simmer soup for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add remaining 2 cups broth and lemon juice. Stir. Heat to a simmer. Take pot off of heat and add sour cream, stirring until completely blended into the soup. Return pot to heat and warm soup until hot. Do not allow the soup to boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle hot soup into heated bowls. Add a small dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley to each serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.