It’s my favorite time of the culinary year: mushroom season! With the cooler weather and the autumn rains, boletus, chanterelles, matsutakis, oysters, angel wings and a host of wild delicacies are entering the shops and popping up in menus everywhere. I will be celebrating the “impolite fungi” here over the next 6 or so weeks of mushroom season so stay tuned all you fellow fungi aficionados!
I had all these asparagus in my refrigerator that were a bit past their prime, so I got creative. Since I am on a somewhat restricted diet just now (for health reasons) and I realized that the philosophy of the “paleolithic diet” currently making waves in the media with a little tweaking here and there – fits perfectly into what my naturopath recommended, I decided to make this a personal “chef’s challenge”. A few experiments (the successful ones) will be shared here over the next few posts. Here is # 1:
In a crock pot, slowly simmer a handful of dried porcini mushrooms
(or, Porcino D’ Autunno). California Boletus edulis will do very nicely. If you can find them, the Italian variety are Boletus Reticulates :”summer porcini” or Boletus Brisa: “Porcino Nero“. I suspect that you can substitute any wild mushroom. I haven’t tried other varieties, yet, so let me know about your experiments.
Add a good-sized handful of cleaned and chopped asparagus – about 3” pieces are fine. Peel the dry ends, chop them up and add them in, too. Add minced garlic, chopped onion, and a few bits of a good goat or a fresh pecorino cheese (maybe 1/4 cup) to make it creamy.
Add enough sherry and vegetable stock to cover, but don’t let the vegetables “swim” in the broth.
For flavor I added smoked salt, 4 peppercorns (whole), 2 juniper berries, one bay leaf, and some fennel pollen. (You can use fennel seed if the pollen is unavailable).
When the asparagus has softened, cool and then use an immersion blender to puree (right in the crock) and add enough stock to make a soup. (About 2 cups.) add a few mushrooms (any variety) chopped into bite-sized pieces and let simmer until hot and tasty. Top with a little Pecorino Romano, drizzle with your favorite finishing oil (a little white truffle oil would not be out-of-place) and sprinkle a little paprika for color. Serve with or without a sandwich. This recipe is proportional, so experiment a bit withe the amounts until you like it.