A creamy pureed chanterelle soup is one of the best things you can make if your wild mushrooms have damage, or aren't the prettiest.
If you're a chanterelle hunter, you will likely have experienced this scenario:
You get home from your successful chanterelle hunt, you start to unload the mushrooms in the kitchen and prepare to clean and process them. You wash the mushrooms briefly if needed, allow them to drain and dry, and then proceed to cut some up into reasonably sized-edible pieces and cook. When you cut some of the larger mushrooms in half, you notice something strange, they are nearly hollow inside, some with little tunnels and discolored bits.
Feeling discouraged you start cutting some of the smaller ones in half as well, to check for similar damage. To your horror, one of the mushrooms has maggots inside of it: moving, writhing, wiggling maggots, each with a puny black dot on it's head. When you expose them from inside their mushroom home, they get agitated and start to writhe and squirm violently, shaking their little maggot tails back and forth and moving around quickly, or scurrying back into a tunnel they have carved within the mushroom. Absolutely disgusted, you hurl the mushroom across the room into the garbage, shouting a flurry of expletives.
Wild mushrooms are expensive, pound for pound more expensive than any sort of meat or protein I have ever purchased. When you pay that much for something, as a chef or restauranteur you must squeeze as much money as possible from it.
Having a bug or two is absolutely acceptable, and I can tell you, never once in my life has a customer complained of or been squeemish about bug damage in a chanterelle, or any wild mushroom for that matter. Mostly I assume this is due to the public's ignorance of the bugs very existence though.
However, bug damage can get to a point that even I cannot tolerate sometimes. If mushrooms sit in the fridge for a while (especially boletes) the bugs inside them are not dormant; quite the contrary.
I have heard tales of the maggots even migrating out of the mushrooms themselves to crawl around in the crisper, as well as having personally witnessed it myself as well with mature chicken of the woods.
This little rant about mushroom bugs has a happy ending though. I was recently trying to figure out how to use some chanterelles on the brink of death. They came in nice enough via air-freight, but Midwest chanterelles have much more bugs than others, such as from the Pacific Northwest.
They sat for a day or two, and it seemed the bugs had laid siege to them in the cooler. We had to use and process the chanterelles quickly, but what to do? Their integrity was far too compromised to be simply sauteed, and even though customers still wouldn't know the difference....we would.
Pureeing to hide insect damage
Normally I want to use chanterelles whole or thickly sliced, but, to hide their injuries I decided we would make a pureed soup. I wanted to rely on the heaviness of cream, but lighten it by not adding flour.
The binder would be the pureed chanterelles themselves as well as cooked down white sweet onion. Try it if you have some bug damaged chantys.
Last Chance Cream of Chanterelle Soup
- 1 Blender, such as a vita mix
- 1 recipe pickled chanterelles to garnish I have a recipe for pickles here
- 1 lb firm bug damaged chanterelle mushrooms
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced leek white part only
- ½ cup diced bread for croutons
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups of cream
- ¼ cup grapeseed canola, or light- taste free olive oil (to be added as the soup is pureed)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1.5 cups of homemade chicken stock stock plus an additional ½ cup
- A Bouquet garni optional consisting of: 2 fresh bay leaves, 1 small sprig of thyme, and 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- Heat the butter in a deep pot, add the chanterelles and cook, seasoning with a generous pinch of salt to release the juice from the chanterelles and stirring often, until they are fully cooked and have reduced in size by half. Continue cooking the chanterelles until they brown slightly, this deepens their flavor.
- Add the diced onion and leek and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Add the ½ cup of chicken stock and reduce until it is gone (about 5 minutes) and the onions are thoroughly cooked and soft.
- Add the wine and cook for a few minutes, until reduced by half. Add the stock and cream, heat until the mixture comes to a simmer
- When the mixture simmers, remove the bouquet garni, then puree the soup in a blender, adding equal portions of the grapeseed oil to each batch while pureeing- this adds air, helps it to puree, and improves it's velvety texture. Finally pass the soup through a metal or mesh strainer.
- If you have a vita-mix or industrial blender, you may not need to strain this, and if you just don't feel like straining it, that's ok, just make sure to give it plenty of time on high in the blender, until it is as smooth as you like. Season the soup to taste with salt if needed and then refrigerate immediately.
- To plate, heat the soup, check the seasoning for salt and pepper, then garnish with toasted croutons pickled chanterelles, and the chives.
Chanterelles and cream go so well together! That soup is essentially a thinner version of the sauce that I usually make for chicken or pork.
As always, I love your photography and presentations here, Alan. Do you do that yourself?
Whatsup Dan! Chanterelles and cream go together well indeed! As for your question, yes. I don't have much money at all, and I do not have the resources many bloggers do to curate their site using professional photographers and web designers. All I have is a friend who told me I needed to do it and occasionally gives me counseling and advice. I know nothing about photography, except that I plate things like I would at work, and just try to make things look how they do in my mind. If you like the pics, thank you! Often I worry about them becoming redundant looking from my lack of experience. Perhaps there are some cheap community ed classes I can take. Who knows.
Let's go hunt some hens when they come around this season eh? Shouldn't be long with honeys and entolomas up.
I was shocked to see maggot damage to your chanterelles. One if the best things about our Pacific Northwest Chanties is their LACK of infestation. In fact, we can leave babies for as long as we want without fear of invasion by bugs. Interesting post, lovely recipe and photos. Tx!
I am indeed aware of the resistance to bugs your PNW chanterelles have. Typically I will clean and process around 4-500 lbs of them a year. 99.9% of them are totally bug free. I am unsure what the reason is, but I am also quite sure that it is a different variety of chanterelle that grows in quantity in the PNW, my research points to one "cantharellus formosus". It is not as aromatic as the chanterelles that grow in the midwest that I pick, but their resistance to bugs is astounding. Often Oregon chanterelles that I see lack the egg yolk yellow color of our midwest variety, they are often more on the brown side. I have also run into batches of PNW chanterelles that are incredibly bitter and near inedible. I do not know what makes this happen. Regardless, I love them all.
Cheers if you liked the post, it was a fun one to write.
Good luck out there.
Robert Malcolm Kay
It was also a lot of fun to read 😉
Thank you for the recipe I will try it today. We are in the middle of a chanterelle explosion here in Oregon right now. Soup on a rainy Oregon day sounds real good.
Great to hear, hope you like the recipe! Remember though that I was using this to transform damaged chanterelles, using large, chopped chanterelles and a simple flour liason or roux with some dairy would make a great soup that will allow you to keep them whole or in pieces, as opposed to being blended.
Good luck hunting those chanterelles in the PNW!
Hi, posting from the PNW also and would like to know if this soup does well to be frozen? Thanks!
Yes that's fine. You may need to puree it again as it may separate during freezing.
Diki Shamlian Gust
How do/did you get rid of the maggots?
Like I explain in the post, you can't get rid of the maggots. I also can't afford to throw away hundreds of dollars of chanterelles, this is why the soup is pureed.
Diki Shamlian Gust
I presume you mean the soup is served containing the maggots.
I've picked many pounds of morels, and while many of them have the bug holes, I personally have yet to actually see a "maggot" or any other bug in them, even aided with a jeweler's loupe.
That said, keep in mind that the term "maggot" has connotations that really don't apply here. These would not be house fly maggots or anything like that. They would be maggots in the sense of being the larvae of an insect, but not ones that hang out in garbage cans.
Diki Shamlian Gust
After reading this : "To your horror, one of the mushrooms has maggots inside of it: moving, writhing, wiggling maggots, each with a puny black dot on it’s head. When you expose them from inside their mushroom home, they get agitated and start to writhe and squirm violently, shaking their little maggot tails back and forth and moving around quickly, or scurrying back into a tunnel they have carved within the mushroom. Absolutely disgusted, you hurl the mushroom across the room into the garbage, shouting a flurry of expletives." Your comment had me totally confused until I realized you (collectively) were different people.
Yes, I am not the author, and I was speaking only of my own experiences.