by Allen Jesson
(Mersea Island UK)


Serves 12
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

This can be made with cultivated field mushrooms but the taste will be so much better if you can find some genuine articles, out there in that autumnal field. Assuming that you've been lucky, you really want to make sure you get out there early and beat the birds and yes, maggots, to this culinary feast.

When you get back home with your treasured bounty, you can choose to peel or not, that's your call and it will usually depend on how much of an early bird you've been. What you should and must check for are tiny little maggot holes in the stem. If you see those, then discard those stems and also check the canopy for signs of damage. If you see any, then best to discard the whole mushroom and vow to get up earlier tomorrow. It's not essential but I prefer not to eat maggot ridden food and after all, you may invite me around to dinner one night. But, assuming everything is okay, here's what you'll need:

Enough field mushrooms to nearly fill a pressure cooker sized saucepan.
One onion, chopped
One carrot, chopped
One stick of celery, chopped.
Olive oil
Dried (2 tablespoons) parsley and fresh parsley (a good handful)
Salt and Pepper
Butter, knob
1 Pint of milk

To Serve
Cream and garlic croutons to finish

1.Fry off the onion, carrot and celery in some olive oil until softened.
2.Add the mushrooms, the dried parsley and another good glug of olive oil to the pan and cover. Leave to simmer for around 30 minutes.
3.This effectively is going to reduce and concentrate the mushroom flavour. They should reduce by around 75%. Once that's done, add the milk, salt, pepper and knob of butter.
4.Then it's decision time. Once the milk has warmed (careful not to boil over) then you can choose to whizz a little, or whizz a lot. A lot will give you a creamy soup, with very little lumps in. A little will leave some texture to chew on. I prefer the smooth, creamy version, as we will add garlic croutons at the end for added crunch.
5.So, once you've whizzed, then it's a simple matter of tasting and adjusting the seasoning. 6.Then add most of the chopped fresh parsley and stir in.
7.Serve immediately, with a dollop of cream in the centre, topped with a sprinkle of saved parsley and garlic croutons.

I have had many a guest say that this is the best mushroom soup they have ever tasted, so when autumn comes, it's definitely worth setting the alarm clock and heading off toward those magical mushroom fields (if you can find them). Happy hunting! (But this soup can be made at any time of the year with cultivated mushrooms).

This is just one of the 31 amazing soup recipes contained here:

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