Czech Style Chanterelle and Potato Soup

This is a soup in the style of Czech Kulajda. Skilled mushroom hunters, the Czechs know a thing or two about how to prepare preserved mushrooms in delicious ways. We like to purée the reconstituted dried chanterelles, as while we believe they maintain an excellent, somewhat matured flavor, once dry their texture never fully recovers.

4 ample servings

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • Dried chanterelle mushrooms, 1 ounce soaked in 2 cups hot water for one hour
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 pound of potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1⁄4 inch dice, held in bowl of water
  • 2 tablespoons Beurre manié (paste made with equal parts softened butter and flour mixed together) or Wondra flour (optional)
  • 1 cup cream, half and half, or sour cream
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 eggs, poached
  • salt and pepper

Toast caraway seeds by heating a dry skillet and turning off the high heat when you add the seeds. Toast for up to 2 minutes until lightly brown. Grind them using mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder, and set aside.

Simmer the soaked mushrooms in the vegetable stock and their soaking liquid (be sure to leave the end of the mushroom soaking liquid behind to keep any dirt out of the soup) for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are somewhat tender, knowing that they will never be as soft as fresh mushrooms. Blend mushrooms with half of the stock they simmered in, straining and reserving the remainder of the stock to remove any grit.

Rinse pan, and return blended mushrooms and reserved stock to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes to simmering liquid, season to taste with 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds, salt, and pepper. When potatoes are just barely tender, if you wish to thicken the soup begin gently stirring in pieces of beurre manié, or slowly adding Wondra flour, until the liquid reaches the consistency of a thin pancake batter.

Once the proper consistency is reached, reduce the heat so the mixture stays below a simmer and add the cream, half and half, or sour cream. If using sour cream, be sure to first temper it by whisking approximately 1⁄2 cup of the hot soup into the sour cream before adding it to the remainder of the soup in the pan. Season the soup to taste with vinegar and additional salt and pepper if desired.

Portion out servings of the soup, garnishing with plenty of fresh dill and a poached egg. Serve with crusty sourdough bread. For an even heartier meal, make dumplings in the soup before adding the dill and egg.