For this post, I don’t want to say too much – because I think the photos speak a thousand words. It’s that time of year again, where we live and breathe wild mushrooms - picking them, delivering them, eating them, preserving them, dreaming about them. It’s quiet, it’s cold, and it’s a special time of the year.
What I will say, is that we have been talking a lot about keeping “well” at the moment, not doing too much, staying warm for winter and eating nourishing foods. And this quick soup fits right into that. It’s absolutely not complicated, made from ingredients that are prolific in the wild around us, and is something you can throw together super quickly, while still being super nourishing and warming.
We see this as a cure-all soup: stinging nettles are an amazingly earthy wild green, prolific at the moment and incredibly cleansing; slippery jack mushrooms are one of the most delicious mushrooms in our forest, with a beautiful spongy texture, a bit like porcini; and chicken stock is a truly ancient food that has been keeping people well for millennia, rich in vitamins and minerals to nourish everything from your heart to your immune system.
But use what you have for this dish. If you can’t find wild mushrooms, replace them with others that are more familiar. If you can’t find nettles, use spinach or kale.
For tips on foraging for stinging nettles near you, check out our little guide to edible weeds.
And for tips on making great stock check out our stock recipe.
Wild mushrooms are something you absolutely need to learn about properly before you go foraging. There are a lot of poisonous mushrooms in the forest and it’s essential you know what you are doing before eating anything! Find yourself someone in the know to take you into the forest.
ON FINDING WILD MUSHROOMS
At this time of year you may be able to find slippery jack mushrooms at your local health food store or farmers' market. If you can’t access them you can use: oyster mushrooms or porcini mushrooms (for a similar texture); red pine mushrooms (also called saffron milkcaps, which are another forest mushroom); or any standard mushroom you can get.
Serves 4-6 // Time 15 minutes
1. Prepare the nettles
If the nettles are young, you can use stalks and all, simply roughly chop.
If the nettles are older, quickly blanch in hot salty water for a few seconds, remove and strip leaves from the stems. The hot water stops the nettles from stinging!
Set nettles aside.
2. Make the soup
In a medium saucepan, add butter, a big splash of olive oil and a big pinch of pepper. Sauté spring onions for a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Add garlic, mushrooms, a big pinch of salt and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to brown. If they look a little dry, add a bit more oil and butter.
Add chicken stock and nettles. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, place the lid on and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, portion into bowls and serve with a splash of olive oil, some spring onion tops, a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
80 g stinging nettles
6 big spring onion shoots (or spring onions), finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Big knob of butter
Ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400 g slippery jack mushrooms, peeled and sliced into thick slices
2 L chicken stock
Spring onion tops, finely chopped
Forest Images by Shantanu Starick
Food by Lentil Purbrick