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
- 2 potatoes
- 1 onion
- Bay leaf
- Some vegetable oil
- Smetana or yoghurt
- Dill (optional)
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!