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Wild Mushroom Soup

(Kelmuciu Sriuba by Julia Mack).

This is a recipe I found while researching Lithuanian cooking for my classes in Lithuanian food. It comes from a book written by the American Lithuanian Women's Roman Catholic Alliance. I have rewritten it using ingredients we can easily find in New England.

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
5 medium potatoes (about 2 lb weight) peeled and cut into ¾" dice approx.
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, washed and cut into fine dice. Retain leaves to cut up as herb for garnish.
3 bay leaves
3 whole allspice berries, crushed.
13 oz can evaporated milk
7c chicken stock
1lb mushrooms, quartered and thinly sliced.
Fresh dill, chopped

The original recipe called for "1 fully packed pint jar wild mushrooms." It doesn't explain whether they are dried but probably not since they would tend to be strung on string once dried. The note in the book says "first ingredient is knowledge of edible mushrooms. Different kinds of wild mushrooms can be used, but we are partial to "kelmuciai" - the fall mushrooms. Cultivated ones can be used also."

I know that porcini or cepe are mushrooms that correspond to some of the wild mushrooms available in Lithuania. However, they only seem to be available dried here and are very expensive. I bought at Trader Joes a 1 lb pack of frozen Mushroom Medley imported from China which contained a blend of different frozen wild mushrooms for about $2.50 which is not much more expensive than ordinary cultivated mushrooms. Either use the whole pound of frozen (roughly chopped) or use half frozen and half a pound of ordinary mushrooms, quartered and thinly sliced. I found 1 lb of frozen made a very peppery tasting soup.

Method

1. Melt butter in soup pan. Add potatoes, onion and celery, turn in butter and cook slowly for about 8 minutes until veggies are softened slightly.

2. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

3. Put bayleaves and allspice berries in coffee filter bag and tie closed with string. If you don't have allspice try a pinch of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg in the filter bag. Add to pan with sliced mushrooms, return to boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Note that wild mushrooms often stay firmer than cultivated.

4. Add evaporated milk, bring to a simmer and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chopped celery leaves and chopped fresh dill and plenty of bread.

Note that this is a very low fat recipe with only 2 tbsp butter, (substitute olive oil if you want) and you can use evaporated skimmed milk. Don't place the potatoes in cold water as it will rinse out the starch which acts as a thickening agent for the soup.

Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers a Personal Chef service, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, and makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.
 

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Last modified: January 26, 2000
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