Did you know there are two mushroom farms on the doorstep of the ACT? Majestic Mushrooms of Murrumbateman and Canberra Mushrooms of Yass are both farmed within 50 kilometres of Canberra. In terms of food miles, that’s pretty damn good. Throughout the month of June, the Australian Mushroom Growers Association have run a buy local campaign in the ACT. I am excited to be a part of a conversation about local mushrooms that started with a courtesy box of mushrooms hand delivered to food bloggers across Canberra. You can link to the other bloggers at the power of mushrooms website. My box of mushroomy goodness was kindly delivered by Ian from Majestic Mushrooms. I usually buy my Majestic Mushrooms at my beloved Capital Region Farmers Market. But you can also buy them from the green grocer next to SupaBarn in the Canberra Centre. Of course, you can also buy local mushrooms at Choku Bai Jo in North Lyneham and Curtin. A tip for young players, if you want to buy local, give the nationwide chain stores a miss. But you can find local mushrooms at SupaBarn and Ziggy’s shops across the ACT.
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile and, in my humble opinion, ridiculously delicious. In the past, I’ve posted recipes for tempura mushrooms, my favourite mushroom frittata, stuffed mushrooms and mushroom risotto. Mushrooms take far less energy to produce than meat, but make for a great burger, or in this case, a wonderful, meaty soup full of hearty goodness. It seemed appropriate to use my locally grown mushrooms in a soup with seasonal chestnuts from just down the road. It’s a flavour combination I love and will continue to play with.
This delicious soup is gluten free and can very easily be made vegetarian or vegan by the use of olive oil instead of butter, selecting a vegetable stock, and choosing appropriate toppings. I used duck stock, because it’s what I had in the freezer. It worked beautifully. Vegetable or chicken stock would be great though. I may have some rabbit stock soon too though, and I think that would work beautifully. The lemon thyme is the trick to lifting this soup delicious soup from good to truly wonderful. Frying a few of these selected ingredients make a wonderful crisp topping for a luscious soup.
|600||grams||swiss brown mushrooms|
|1/4||cup||olive oil or butter|
|freshly ground black pepper|
Optional toppings for serving
*Don’t use cream and crème fraiche. If you want a dairy topping, choose one or the other.
Place the whole onions (skin and all) on a baking tray in the oven and set the temperature to 180oC. Roast for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut a cross in the skin of each chestnut, slicing through both the outer and thin inner skin. Add the chestnuts to the oven tray and return it to the oven (with the onions). Roast for another 20 minutes or until the onions are tender and the skin on the chestnuts peel open. While the chestnuts are still warm, remove both the outer and inner skins.
Add the butter or oil to a large saucepan. Cook the mushrooms in the oil over a medium heat till they are cooked through. Add the stock, chestnuts, onion, lemon thyme and bay leaves to the saucepan. Bring the contents to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside a few whole chestnuts and mushrooms for serving. Discard the thyme and bay leaves, then ladle the solids into a blender and puree with as much liquid as you need. Return the puree to the remaining stock, mix to combine and season to taste. Remove any soup you wish to freeze or refrigerate for later use. Heat the soup you wish to serve immediately.
To serve, heat a little oil and fry the pancetta, salt bush, and sage (if using) till crisp. Remove the crisp toppings from the pan and drain. Pour the hot soup into serving bowls. Add some of your reserved chestnuts and mushrooms. If you’re using cream or crème fraiche, pour a little on top of each bowl. Then top with your choice of crisp toppings and fresh thyme.