Polish Wild Mushroom Soup {Zupa Grzybowa}

Inspired by Poland’s mushroom picking season, I’m cooking wild mushroom soup today. Wild mushroom season starts around August/September and it can last through the fall. Wet and humid weather helps, and since it has been a wet summer, I’m told they’ve shown up early. Mushroom picking is tricky. You have to be certain that those you pick are 100% safe, or take the chance of getting your stomach pumped, in the best case scenario. I stick to a couple of varieties I know. Podgrzybek = bolete mushroom has a very dark, chocolate-brown shiny cap and spongy porous yellowish surface under the cap. The stem is tan/yellowish.  The second one is borowik = another variety of bolete mushroom in a porcini family: brown smooth cap and also a spongy porous light yellow surface under the cap, the smaller/younger the mushroom, the lighter the brown (borowik).

It has been several years since my last mushroom picking excursion. It takes a good eye to find the small brown caps camouflaged in the sea of brown leaves, but once spotted satisfaction is unmeasured. It was like going on a treasure hunt without a map, and actually finding it. Sometimes they were buried under a web of grass too, which makes mushroom picking a patient man’s sport.

My family has been picking mushrooms as long as I can remember. Grandma had the best eye, and she was the one who I went with the most. As a child, I would get my own knife even, which made me feel so grown up and special. Our house bordered acres and acres of county land, so we didn’t have to travel far to find them. Early morning, with baskets and knives in hand, we’d try to beat other pickers to our favorite spot that never failed to deliver. Grandma filled her basket first, even though she had “old eyes”, she had said. I was never as good as her, but satisfied with whatever I could find. Trick was to look around in mossy spots, AND we knew that once we found one, there has GOT TO be a twin close by. There often was.

After a plentiful excursion, mushrooms would be cleaned, sliced and dried. One portion of fresh mushrooms would be cooked right away for dinner. Sautéed mushrooms with onions in cream sauce, served over hot potatoes. Sauce would become a bit gooey, creamy with bold mushroom tones. No meat needed. I will never forget that taste or soft and meaty texture of fresh wild mushrooms. Dried mushrooms would be saved for later and made into soups and sauces, or added to cabbage dishes, like bigos.

I have not gone mushroom picking here in the US, and I don’t have any borowiki or podgrzybki, but I’ve managed to replicate the taste of them by using dried mushrooms available on the market near me. I’ve purchased dried wild mushroom mix on-line (link here) but if you have a Polish grocery store near you, you will be able to buy some there, I’m sure. This mushroom mix actually worked well for me and I was able to bring the flavor back. Wild mushroom soup is deliciously creamy, with potent mushroom flavor. It’s normally served with pasta, garnished with fresh parsley.

Polish Mushroom Soup {Zupa Grzybowa}

  • Yields: 5-6 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 min (not including soaking)
  • Cook Time: 30-40 min

Ingredients

  • 1 oz / 1.5 cups / 30 g dried mushrooms + 2 cups / 500 ml of water
  • About 1.5 lbs / 750 g of chicken parts with bone in (wings, legs)
  • 6 cups / 1.5 l of water
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 6 allspice seeds
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream (sweet cream)
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 1 tbs of butter
  • Additionally:
  • Cooked pasta
  • Parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Soak mushrooms in 2 cups of water overnight. Once soft cut into smaller pieces. Preserve water.

  2. Next day place chicken, carrots, celery in 6 cups of water, salt, peppercorns, allspice and bay leaves. Add mushrooms with soaking water. Boil for about 30 min on low heat. In the meantime, dice the onion and sauté in butter until golden brown on the edges.

  3. When ready, take out everything but the mushrooms. Cut up carrots into small pieces and return to soup. Add sautéed onion and cream. Stir and taste. Add salt, if needed (I added another teaspoon).

  4. Serve over pasta, garnished with parsley.

Notes

*IMPORTANT: some wild mushrooms are not to be served to children under the age of 4, some say 5. Do your research before serving to children.

Have you picked mushrooms outside Poland? What do you do with them?

Leave me a comment below.

Smacznego!

Anna

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Anna,
    I have just signed in to you site.
    Question: At Christmas – do you serve Mushroom Soup. We do, and the recipe is quite unique. I would like to hear what you do.
    Thanks,
    Bernice Jazwiecki

    1. Hi Bernice, we do both: a beet soup and a wild mushroom soup (creamy), I have both of them on the blog. How is your unique? Anna

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