Asian Wild Mushroom Soup
Grandma lives in the woods in the biggest nature reserve of the Netherlands: the Veluwe. It’s the best time of the year now because of the beautiful colors that autumn produces. Now the trees are gold and iron red and the fox berries hang on their bushes like red fancy earrings.
But our eye usually catches a particularly large mushroom: this cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis crispa). We want to make Asian wild mushroom soup with coconut and fresh herbs.
I never dare to pick mushrooms myself. It is potentially pretty lethal. But my mother-in-law is Norwegian and she grew up in a family where it is quite normal to look for edible mushrooms in the fall. If the cauliflower mushroom pops up somewhere in her forest, then we are ready with our basket and knife.
My daughter Loulou can’t wait. We dive into the forest to find the best (young) mushrooms for our Asian soup with coconut for tonight.
“If a mushroom is too old, you should never eat it,” Grandma explains to us. Grandma briefly pushes the top of the fungus. Even if the mushroom is too tender or too hard (woody) she will leave it to the forest animals. But we’ve found one in perfect condition. So let’s take it home.
I remove most of the remains that the forest has left behind and I cut off the bottom part that contains a lot of soil.
We always transport mushrooms in a wicker basket. In plastic mushrooms tend to turn snotty fast and in a piece of paper, they stick enormously. A wicker open basket works best.
Washing and rinsing
Once home, the wild mushroom can be carefully placed in a bucket of cold water. The insects run out immediately. They know their way back to the forest. I let my mushroom soak for a moment. The sand floats down to the bottom of the bucket.
I flush the water out and I refill the bucket. I repeat this about 5 times until the sand has totally disappeared. I also tear the mushroom into smaller pieces so the sand and other dirt can easily ‘run’ away.
This mushroom has black dots here and there. That is not always earth, but also the color of the mushroom. In the meantime, it smells delicious in the kitchen. A wild mushroom like this gives a lot of tremendously tasty smell. This is promising.
I start with the broth now.
Asian wild mushroom soup with coconut
This recipe is enough for 4-5 people and is ready in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Of course, you don’t have to go scout the forest to make this soup. The most beautiful mushrooms you can buy anywhere nowadays.
I make my wild mushroom soup with Asian fresh herbs and some coconut milk. The coconut supports the umami flavor of the mushroom really well.
- Wild mushrooms (approximately 300 – 400 grams)
- 250 milliliters of coconut milk
- Asian basil (big hand)
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- a teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1,5 liters of water
- 8 cm fresh ginger (I use Chinese)
- 8 cm of fresh galangal
- 3 cm fresh kencur
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 8 lemon leaves (jeruk purut/ kaffir lime leaves)
- 2 mushroom stock cubes
- 1 teaspoon of salt
An Asian soup often has side dishes. We have already eaten this soup with noodles, but also with rice. A crispy vegetable that you stir-fry (such as bok choy) is fantastic with it. Raw string beans cut in small pieces are also delicious. Let your imagination run free ;-). Below I share a few ideas for side dishes.
- 1 bush of bok choy, stir-fried with 2 cloves of garlic and some salt
- Japanese thin noodles (or any other kind) or rice
- 250 grams minced meat, seasoned with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Peel the ginger and cut fine.
- Chop the garlic and onions
- Cut the galangal in 1/2 cm slices.
- Sauté the onions and garlic with the ginger, galangal and jeruk purut in a tablespoon of oil
- Add the mushrooms
- After about 3 minutes add the hot water
- Let this simmer for about 5 minutes with the lid on the pan
- Add the mushroom stock cubes
- Add the coconut milk
- Add coarsely cut Asian basil
- Cook the noodles
- Stir-fry the bok choy with garlic
- Make soup meatballs by season the minced meat with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of sesame.
- Add noodles (or rice), bok choy, sambal and basil to a plate and pour over the hot soup
- Sprinkle some lemon juice over the soup and serve
Those long finger-shaped herb on the left in the photo, next to the lemongrass, are Chinese ginger roots. This is very tasty. The ginger is a bit spicier in taste and a bit sweeter too. You can, of course, use regular ginger instead.
I peel my ginger carefully and finely cut them, just as small as garlic. I cut the galangal into slices, just like you see in Thai coconut soup. I take the pieces out when the soup is ready so you are not mistaken during the meal and bite into one.
I start to sauté the onions and garlic together with the ginger, galangal slices and lemon leaves (jeruk purut) in a tablespoon of oil in the soup pan. When everything gets tender, I add my mushroom.
I don’t let this mix cook too hard. After about 3 minutes I add hot water. I fill my soup pan halfway (about 1,5 liters) because I’m going to add coconut milk later too. I let this simmer for about 5 minutes with the lid on the pan and then turn off the gas. We are going for a walk, so this is a great moment for the flavors to develop.
We are back, so now it’s time to finish the soup. I heat everything up again and add two wild mushroom stock cubes. You can also omit this and add salt yourself, but the cubes give depth to the flavor. Taste your broth, but if your broth already has a strong taste, I would only go for salt. You must add a lot of salt to a soup to get the right flavor. I would use at least one tablespoon of salt. Taste well until you get the flavor right.
Only at the very last moment, when the soup is already well flavored, I add the coconut milk. This way the color of the soup stays nice and light. If you cook the coconut milk too long I can taste the difference and the color turns browner. Then I taste again if some salt is needed. It does, I add another teaspoon of salt.
Today I choose to add a few soup balls too because we get extra guests, but you can leave this out. For the meatballs, I season the minced meat to taste with a little pepper and salt, fresh ginger and a teaspoon of sesame oil.
I also cut Asian basil into pieces (not too fine) and scoop them into the soup.
In the meantime, I have also made my noodles. There are many types of noodles. I use a Japanese noodle that has to cook exactly 2 minutes. Then rinse with cold water.
It is nice to add a poached egg in this soup. Certainly, if you are going to eat this soup as a meal.
Now I also want to serve a crispy vegetable with my soup. I wash and cut my bok choy into large pieces and stir-fry this in some oil and only some garlic (one clove) and salt. I keep the bok choy nice and crispy. This is delicious in the soup later.
We can eat. I put the pan of soup on the table, with a bowl of noodles, the bok choy, and some extra sliced basil. A crisp like krupuk is also nice to go with this. I also make some fresh sambal for those who like it spicy.
Want to see how to make a fresh sambal? Check out this link.
I sprinkle some lemon juice over the soup just before serving it. Now it’s done! Selamat makan.
This soup tastes so powerful and full. The coconut milk provides a real Asian cream soup, the egg melts in the broth and the crispy bok choy makes it a bit sweet and fresh due to its color and taste.
We want to eat again tomorrow, but the pan is quickly empty. Have to look for a new wild mushroom now!