In Sam Thayer’s book Incredible Wild Edibles, he discusses wild caraway in depth, and, in passing, mentions a sort of Scandinavian soup made with beef stock and wild caraway leaves. I wanted to find the soup, and, even moreso, I wanted to study the history and any variations I could find. Well, it took me a solid year, but eventually I found the name, and a few typical recipes to try. The novel part of this soup, which is very simple, is the use of the wild caraway leaves, as opposed to a dish that focuses on using the seeds as a seasoning, which is what we typically use when we think of caraway.
Caraway is much more than a seed, and if you harvest it wild, or grow it in your garden, you can harvest the leaves as well as the mature seeds, green seeds, and roots. The traditional Scandinavian soup is called karvekalsuppe, literally “caraway soup” and I had to employ my fellow food personality Nevada Berg to help me figure out where I could find recipes and examples. Turns out I just needed to google things in Norwegian. Of course.
There’s a few different examples online you’ll see of the karvekalsuppe, and most of them are very simple, with a good amount of dairy thrown in for good measure. This one is pretty simple too, except that I throw in a couple dried morels, (morels and caraway have a little-known affinity for each other) and I leave out the dairy. Of course, you could add some heavy cream to this, and it will taste great. For this version I kept the dairy out for a more purist/ascetic approach, since cream of morel soup, is, nothing new.
As far as the caraway leaves go, the only real thing to know is that you have to treat them like carrot leaves, they’re not just a soft herb like parsley, tarragon or chives. I like to strip the leaves from the stem, and, in order to get the best flavor and texture from them, I cook the leaves soft, and pulse or blend in the hot stock before thickening with the roux. If the leaves aren’t cooked enough, they’ll be chewy, and even a high-speed blender might have trouble breaking them up.
Morel Broth with Wild Caraway Leaves
- 2.5 cups good meat stock preferably homemade
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 10 grams dried morel mushrooms about ½ cup of dried, whole mushrooms
- Kosher salt to taste
- ¼ cup chopped wild caraway leaves
- ½ teaspoon green unripe caraway seeds, finely chopped, or substitute a pinch of toasted, powdered caraway seed
- Re-hydrate the morels in the stock for for 15-20 minutes, then agitate to remove grit, strain the liquid and reserve both separately.
- Heat the stock with the caraway leaves and simmer gently for ten minutes or until tender, then puree in a blender.
- Coarsely chop the morels. Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the flour and cook for a few minutes to make a roux.
- Gradually whisk the hot stock into the roux, working in small additions, waiting until it’s absorbed to prevent lumps. Add the green caraway or ground caraway and morels, and cook for 2 minutes more. Double check the seasoning, adjust as needed, then serve.