I’ve told this story before. But this summer is another summer of gold so I’m taking another stab at it. The chanterelle mushroom. The spots of bright gold pop up through the moss in our yards as if Jesse James had a leak in the bag of coins he stole from the bank. They are everywhere. Because of their color and unusual shapes I always thought they would kill you just by touching one. Finally, Mark Wagner, a fly fishing friend showed me some pictures of them. “I’ve got them growing all over my yard,” I told him. The following day I picked some and had my first taste of mushroom soup made from the gold growing in my yard.
Before I start, a word of warning: I love the people that follow my stories and don’t want to see any of them poisoned. So please make sure you are picking chanterelles and not Jack-O-Lanterns or some other nasty mushroom. Once you have seen one you will know what they look like. There are only a couple of look-alikes so it’s not difficult but please take care. This recipe also works well with Morels in the spring.
This has been a wet year and by mid-June, I began seeing little gold bumps starting to creep out of the moss. They weren’t much bigger than the tip of my finger but I began checking them daily. After a few wet days or even just a long, heavy rain they start growing rapidly. The circular crowns begin to show folds making them look downright lethal. They aren’t. When I guessed at least one pound of them were big enough to be picked. I picked them. There is always a temptation to gather everything you see but I figured if I just took the largest, the smaller ones would get big enough to harvest in a week or so.
When I collect mushrooms I carry them in a woven basket to assure that spores will find a home on the ground. I also carry something sharp to cut them at the base to avoid pulling up anything that might come back next year. A lot of people use a special knife for cutting the stems. I use Jan’s kitchen scissors. So far I’ve not heard a peep about it so that will be my cutting device until I start getting myself in trouble. I guess that as long as I keep making really tasty soup I’m in the clear.
The first step is to clean the chanterelles. A soft brush or an old toothbrush usually does the job. I don’t wash or rinse them because that can make them soggy. Next comes the mincing. I try to get them down to a size that will work in my little processor.
Next comes the chicken stock. In this case about six cups. While that is getting nice and hot I make a roux using 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons of flour. I don’t let it get brown. When the stock is ready I ladle some of it into the roux whisking as I do it. About 3 or 4 ladles are enough after which I pour the roux with the labeled stock back into the remaining stock. Stirring often, the mixture should simmer for about 20 minutes or until it has been reduced by ¼ and has a silky look and feel.
While I’m whisking the stock, roux mixture I take diced mushrooms and shallot and “sweat them” in a pan until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have shade their water. I like to add a pinch of salt as I’m doing it. Somewhere along the way, I have taken a shot of brandy and crumpled ¼ teaspoon of turmeric into it, and set it aside. Now is the time I add it to the diced and sweated mushrooms and shallots. I turn up the heat until the brandy is nearly gone.
The mushrooms, scallions, and brandy are now ready for the food processor. I buzz the mixture until the contents are as small as I can get them. My processor is small so it usually takes 2 or 3 trips to the buzzer to get all the mixture finely chopped. At that point, it goes into the stock where I whisk it regularly for about 10 minutes.
While all of this has been going on I’ve made a mixture of 3 egg yolks and ½ cup of creme. This is what first got Jan’s attention. Creme! Because this mixture can easily separate I leave that step until I need it. I ladle 3 or 4 cups of the “soup’ into the creme and egg yolk mixture, doing it slowly and whisking as I go. When separation is no longer a worry I add it all back into the remaining “soup” and allow it to simmer. Note: do not let it boil! Simmering is just fine even if you are dying to eat your masterpiece. After all you still need to add 4 tablespoons of butter…yum.
I like to have an extra mushroom to cut into wedges which I “dry fry” and place on top of the soup. It should be dark red and seared. It tastes great and looks really cool so why not? Aside from helping me with the cooking, Jan had picked up a loaf of bread which came out of the oven simultaneously with the soup being poured. At the bottom of the soup are very small bits of the shallots and chanterelles. Some people like to strain the soup before serving but Jan and I like them so we just pour it and eat it.
Just about the time, I think life can’t possibly get any better, along comes an unexpected culinary treat from above. I don’t know what to say but, ”SOUPS ON!”
6 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 pound Chanterelles
2 minced shallots
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
1 shot brandy
¼ teaspoon turmeric or saffron if you can afford it.
Salt to taste