Czech Food, easy, Lunch, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian

Creamy potato and mushroom soup

Potato soup is another Czech classic. This simple but flavoursome dish reminds me of late summer and autumn, which is the usual time to go mushroom picking in Central Europe.

Whilst it’s easy to buy various types of farmed mushrooms in shops here in the UK, it is not that straight-forward back home. People usually go and pick their own mushrooms during the high season.

I used to hate those early mornings when we had to put warm clothes on even if it was boiling hot outside. It was for our own protection: the more clothes you put on, the less of your skin will be exposed to ticks and other bugs usually found in the forest.

Mushrooms grow quick in the morning, so you want to pick them fresh and possibly before others – and before animals and insects get to them too.

It brings back some special memories when I remember those countless mornings spent walking through the forest near where my grandpa and great-grandma lived.

Grandpa would take us to the forest on “a watch” – to get to see the inhabitants of the forest: deers, wild pigs, snakes, foxes and others…

He knew their usual tracks and recognised their footprints and other signs of their presence. Thanks to him, we could be part the wilderness too. It felt amazing.

I always adored him for how he could spend most of his life in there, surrounded by nature. Sometimes the skies challenged him, but there weren’t many things that would stop him from going out there.

Although we weren’t always successful on our mushroom-hunt (yes, this can happen if you come late or if it hadn’t rained properly), but there were times when we had literally buckets full of mushrooms and didn’t quite know what to do with them anymore!

Mum would cook some, and then sliced and dried most of them, so they could be used later in the winter.

Now, if you’ve ever smelled fresh wild mushrooms, you know they smell like a forest. Like the trees and grass around them. I love it. This also is the reason why mushrooms make this otherwise basic recipe so special.

Feel free to use any variety of mushrooms that you’ll find – chestnut mushrooms or porcini will do it justice.

You can also use dried wild mushrooms, but you’ll need to soak them in cold water for at least 1 hour before cooking.

This recipe is vegetarian, but you can easily make it vegan by swapping the cream for a plant-based alternative.

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Creamy potato and mushroom soup

Ingredients for 8 servings

  • 250g chestnut mushrooms
  • 1kg potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1.5l vegetable stock
  • 1 cup double light cream
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • black pepper
  • parsley

Method

  1. Wash and slice the mushrooms, and finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Cut the potatoes into small dices. Boil them in the vegetable stock until soft (the smaller, the quicker they will cook).
  3. Add the olive oil to a large frying pan and turn on medium-high heat. When hot enough, add the onion and garlic and fry until soft and glossy.
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan, season with thyme and black pepper, stir and leave to set. The mushrooms will get a crispier texture if you don’t shake them during cooking.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked, take the stockpot from the hob and place on heatproof surface. Do not drain them.
  6. Prepare your stick blender and blend the potatoes in the vegetable stock until completely smooth. The soup will get creamy and thick.
  7. Place the soup back on the hob, turn on medium-high heat, add the cream and stir. Leave to cook for about 5 mins. If it gets too thick, add a little bit of boiling water.
  8. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic mixture to the soup, stir well, garnish with parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Technical note: Instead of real cream, I used Elmlea Double Light, which I like for its long life in the fridge. They also do plant-based alternatives, so you can make this recipe vegan if you prefer.

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