I love hedgehog mushrooms (especially the giant ones) but during the off-season here in Minnesota I sometimes cook with the smaller Hydnum umbilicatum sold commercially out of the PNW during our winter when I have a craving for fresh mushrooms.
Hedgehogs are great in just about anything you'd add them to, but I love them in soup, where their sometimes crumbly, brittle caps are fine if they happen to break into pieces. The teeth underneath the cap also love to soak up juices, making just about any soup you add them to a great hedgehog mushroom recipe.
The basic soup is a variation on one that we used to serve at Heartland, an old favorite of Chef Lenny Russo's made with pinto beans, spinach, and tomatoes. Adding a healthy amount of hedgehog mushrooms makes it more substantial. It's good as an appetizer, or with some tiny pasta thrown in as a meal.
Adding watercress is a nice touch instead of the spinach, and something I'm lucky enough to be able to harvest all winter long in Wisconsin. The basic soup is vegetarian (if you use vegetable broth) but you can add meat to it to make it more substantial, if you do, reach for some leftover roast chicken or poultry to keep it light.
Cured tomatoes with wild herbs
The cured, herby, rich tomatoes I use here are one of my favorite ways to use wild herbs like bergamot and dried ramp leaves. If you don't have any, you can substitute some peeled, chopped canned tomatoes, squeezed to remove their seeds, but I encourage you to try the cured, dried ones, since they're really addictive.
To make them, toss 2 pounds roma tomatoes (halved the long way, squeezed to remove the seeds) with a good splash of extra virgin olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, a generous pinch each of dried bergamot and ramp leaves, along with a grated or minced clove of garlic.
Lay the tomatoes on a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, cut-side up, and cook at 200F for 5 hours, or until dried, but still soft and tender. Peel the tomatoes and store in olive oil in the fridge, they'll last for a week. See the formal method for the tomatoes here.
Hedgehog Mushroom Soup with Beans, Watercress and Tomato
- 1 oz each: carrot onion and celery
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for finishing
- 5 cups light chicken or vegetable stock
- 8 oz fresh hedgehog mushrooms or chanterelles
- ½ cup dried beans or 1 15 oz can cooked with their juice
- 4 oz a few handfuls fresh tender wild greens, like lambsquarters, amaranth or watercress washed, and spun dry
- ¾ cup oil-cured tomatoes quartered or seeded, chopped tomatoes cut into pieces that will fit on a spoon
- Pinch of dried ramp leaves optional
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh chopped herbs to taste, such as dill, chives, parsley or cilantro optional
- In a food processor, grind the carrot, onion, garlic and celery to a paste, mince by hand, or mash in a mortar and pestle. This is called making a soffrito.
Trim the mushrooms
- Cut any large hedgehog mushrooms into 1-2 inch pieces. Small and medium sized mushrooms should be left whole.
- Roughly chop the greens if they have any long stems. Small leaves like lambsquarters or spinach that will shrink and wilt can be left whole.
Building the soup
- Sweat the soffrito in the oil for a minute or two, without allowing it to color. Add the mushrooms, ramp leaves if using and stock and bring to a simmer. If you have some bean cooking liquid, you can add it in combination with the stock. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes at a gentle bubble.
- Add the beans and greens and heat through.
- Double check the seasoning and adjust for salt, stirring to dissolve, and re-tasting until the soup tastes good to you.
- Finally, slip the tomatoes into the soup, then add some of the chopped fresh herbs to taste just before serving. I add the tomatoes at the very end to keep their flavor from permeating the soup as a sort of warm garnish here, but if you want to add them with the beans and greens you can.
- Serve the soup in bowls garnished with additional extra virgin olive oil, a scattering of fresh herbs if using, and fresh cracked black pepper.