Mushrooms are very popular in Russia and many people collect mushrooms in the wild, learning how to tell edible ones from poisonous ones in the early childhood. It is much more then gathering your food – this pastime referred to as “quiet hunting” is a great way to unite with nature, relax and of course it gives you a goal and a challenge – spotting mushrooms is not straightforward because you never know where to expect them and they are often disguised with a leaf or other debris.
The most popular mushrooms are penny buns, chanterelles, birch boletes, honey fungus and most popular dishes are soups, fried mushrooms and pickled mushrooms. Pickled mushrooms are quite popular as an appetizer. Another popular appetizer is julienne – baked mushrooms julienne in béchamel with cheese.
The mushrooms you can see in every grocery are called champignons and they cannot compare with the rich aroma and taste of wild mushrooms. On top of distinctive flavor mushrooms are a great source of proteins, vitamins and important minerals. Mushrooms are suitable for a vegetarian diet. You can get wild mushrooms in the food markets at the end of summer or beginning of autumn.
With ceps (Penny buns, Rus. белый гриб) you can make a very simple but delicious soup. The soup is very clear and remarkably rich in flavor. The squidgy mushrooms remind scallops by their soft and moist texture (but not the taste). If you are lucky to spot ceps in your local market don’t hesitate – grab them and make yourself some delicious mushroom soup. I have got these mushrooms on the market in Amstelveen, the Netherlands.
250 gr penny buns
Some vegetable oil
Smetana or yoghurt
1. Wash mushrooms, clean from debris and chop into large chunks. Examine the stalk and head for worms. If there are any, pick them out some small worms after chopping. They are harmless and quite common, so if you do accidentally eat a few you’ll be fine!
2.Bring the mushrooms, bay leaf and peppercorns into a pot and pour over 1.5 liters of water. Bring to boil and let simmer for 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile chop the potato into small cubes and finely slice the onion. Fry the onion until golden in vegetable oil.
4. After 40 minutes add potatoes and salt to the soup. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Then add fried onions, simmer for another 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and let infuse for 10-20 minutes.
6. Serve with smetana/yoghurt and finely chopped dill. Enjoy!
When nature awakens and the herbs and leaves start to grow, reaching out for the sun, it’s high time to go to the countryside and collect some young nettles, which are rich in vitamins. You can use them for delicious and super healthy nettle soup and also make drinks full of goodness and “beauty” vitamin E.
There is something mentally soothing about nettle soup. It’s a combination of factors that spring is finally here, the richness of vitamins in the unusual ingredient and the fact that you actually collected your own food in the wild – when was last time you did that?
The nettle soup proclaims: Spring has come, I’m good for you, and you’re a great gatherer!
Sorrel soup is a very refreshing and light soup with a slightly tangy lemon-like taste. This taste comes from the main ingredient of the soup – sorrel leaves.
Those folks in Russia who are lucky to have a datcha – a land allotment with a small or not so small house/mini- cottage, grow sorrel leaves there and then pinch whatever quantity they need for the soup or salad.
Those with the business mindset sell sorrel away together with other veggies and groceries at the local markets.
Sorrel is reach in vitamins C, B and K and iron. Cook this traditional summer/beginning of autumn Russian soup – it’s very easy!
Solyanka soup is an explosion of taste and an unbelievable mix of ingredients – olives, capers, pickled cucumbers and lemon. This great appetizer can be served at parties as a starter. Its bright colours would lift up everybody’s spirit too! Solyanka soup can be made either with meat or fish. Meat Solyanka can be served with sour cream smetana.
Kharcho is a spicy Georgian soup which came to prominence during Soviet times and was served at almost every canteen. It is hot (you can adjust the heat by adding less chillies or garlic), and requires certain spices.
We provide several cooking options – one if you are lucky enough to have original Georgian herbal mixes/plum purées and a more general recipe with a few substitutions. The outcome of both scenarios will be a hearty delicious hot soup and a unique eating experience.