Forest Mushroom Soup, or Zupa Grzybowa

Scott’s Forest Mushroom Soup

Mimi’s Forest Mushroom Soup

I live in the Philadelphia suburbs in Pennsylvania, USA. Scott is now living in Warsaw, Poland. But we still cook together – he’ll be making dinner as he chats to me on the phone or I’ll be baking something (like the coffee cake I made). Then, we had an idea: Why don’t we make the same recipe, together on the phone? It’s the perfect transcontinental date idea.

I ordered a bunch of Polish cookbooks from the library, but my favorite was Wild Honey and Rye by Ren Behan. Scott requested a zupa (to try out his new dutch oven) and we decided on “Forest Mushroom Soup,” or “Zupa Grzybowa,” on page 76.

We made this soup on a Saturday. It was afternoon for me and early evening for Scott. By the time the soup was ready it was an early dinner for me and late dinner for Scott! Make sure you have a good couple hours before you attempt this recipe.

Mimi’s Kitchen Tools

  • Stock pot
  • Large frying pan
  • Cutting board
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • 8 inch chef’s knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Spatula
  • Silicone spoon
  • 3 bowls (to put chopped ingredients in)

Scott’s Kitchen Tools

  • Enamelled cast iron Dutch oven
  • 32 cm carbon steel Paella Pan
  • Cutting board
  • 8 inch chef’s knife
  • 3.5 inch paring knife (for peeling carrots)
  • Spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle (for serving)

While we both stuck to the heart of the recipe, we tweaked it a little bit to match our eating habits and what we had on hand.

Scott’s Ingredients

Recipe IngredientsIn PolishMy SubstitutionIn Polish
1 large potatoziemniak/kartofel2 cups of chopped cauliflowerkalafior
1 oz. dried mushrooms + 2 cups of fresh white mushroomspieczarka3 cups of chopped fresh white mushrooms
1 tsp of vegetable oilolej roslinny1 tsp of olive oiloliwa z oliwek
1 tsp of buttermasło1 tsp of smalec (rendered pork fat)
2 carrotsmarchewka3 carrots
1 onion halved + 1 onion finely choppedcebula1 onion halved + 1.5 onion finely chopped
1 bay leaflisc laurowy2 bay leaves
1 celery stickseler3 celery sticks
1 lb of chicken wingskurczak1 lb of chicken thighs
0 cloves of garlicczosnek6 cloves of garlic
100 ml of heavy creamsmietanka100 ml of heavy cream + 1/2 cup of full fat sour cream

I swapped out the potato, and instead used cauliflower to try to try to keep the recipe as keto friendly as possible. I used smalec, instead of butter because I had just the right amount of smalec left for this recipe. I used chicken thighs instead of wings because I already had those in the fridge from a previous dinner, since that is what I buy whenever I buy chicken. I also added garlic because I like garlic and already had some on the counter.

*A note on Scott’s ingredients: The above table is not all the ingredients the recipe calls for, just what Scott tweaked. He also used herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon!

Mimi’s Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes
  • roughly 3 cups of white mushrooms
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (I used half of the onion for the stock and the other for the soup part)
  • 5 sticks of celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 lb of chicken wings
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh parsley (I didn’t chop mine, just threw it in)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

I was hesitant to buy chicken wings, as I’m not a huge fan of the bones. Post-soup making I wish I had gotten chicken thighs like Scott after the tedious effort of de-boning the stock. I also added an extra potato because I thought it might make the soup creamier (the recipe calls for just one potato), but I don’t think it did. I upped the number of carrots and celery because I’m a big fan, and added the thyme because I had some left over from another recipe.

Our Soup Making Process

Please note, my written “steps” are only loosely correlated with the recipe’s printed directions, this is more “our story” than a direct how-to. You will need to get the recipe for full cooking details as we cannot publish it on the blog!

Turn to the recipe on page 76 of Wild Honey and Rye. Scott and I followed the directions, with a few tweaks here and there.

Step 1: First you have to make the stock. You could cheat and get boxed stock, but Scott and I are all in on homemade. We chopped the veggies and threw them into our stock pots with the bay leaves, chicken (thighs for him and wings for me), herbs, salt, and pepper.

Mimi’s Stock
Scott’s Stock

The recipe calls for you to “gently bring to a boil.” I turned my stovetop up on high and had my stock boiling within a few minutes. Meanwhile, Scott took about 15 minutes to gently bring his to a boil on medium heat. This resulted in me have zero foam, while he had foaming action. (The recipe calls for skimming off any foam.) Lesson here: it’s probably best for flavor melding to gently bring to a boil. Rookie mistake. I decided to let mine simmer an additional 15 minutes, so our stocks would finish at the same time.

Scott’s stock simmering nicely!

Step 2: While the stock was simmering, both of us prepped our respective soup veggies. After that, we still had a lot of time to kill. We chatted and cleaned up our kitchens. I was drinking coffee, while Scott was having a “Jan Collins.” The stock began to smell amazing pretty quickly!

Once your stock is done boiling, the recipe calls for removing the chicken wings, onion, celery, and bay leaf. It does not say what to do with these things after that, which we felt was vague and confusing. We both opted to leave the chicken and veggies in.

Step 3: Take out the chicken bones. I’ve never made homemade stock before and I’m not a huge bone-in fan (I let Scott handle the meat cooking normally), so I asked Scott: “How do I de-bone the chicken?” He advised me that the chicken should fall off the bones and be very easy to remove from the stock (his was), but the chicken wings were definitely a bit harder. I wish I had grabbed chicken thighs as it definitely would have been faster. The meat was falling off, but since I used whole chicken wings there were a lot of little bones and some cartilage. I used my soup spoon and a fork, basically combing through the stock to ensure I grabbed all the bones – meanwhile, Scott was already on the last couple steps of the recipe. I also removed some of the loose skin that was floating around.

Step 4: While the stock finishes boiling, you’ll need to prep the rest of the ingredients to add in. Scott reminded me, you need to let the pan heat up before you put the butter and oil in – can you guess which one of us is the better cook yet? (Hint: not me!)

The recipe calls for using dried mushrooms as well, but Scott and I both thought that seemed unnecessary. However, my dad advised me later that his grandmother used to make this soup with the dried mushrooms. The trick is to use the stock you made to rehydrate the mushrooms, which soaks up some of the liquid. Polish grandmothers know their way around a kitchen!

Step 5: Once you’ve added the lemon juice and rest of your parsley, add everything to the stock and bring it all to a boil.

Here, the recipe calls for pureeing about half the soup to thicken it. I used my immersion blender and just pureed the whole thing, but it did not become super creamy as I expected (even with the extra potato). Scott opted out of pureeing altogether, as he explains later.

Mimi’s soup post-puree

Step 6: Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream (and/or sour cream).

Scott’s soup before the heavy cream
And after heavy cream

Scott’s Soup Story

For the past month, I have been slowly trying to cultivate my perfect minimalist kitchen.  My goal was to focus on buying a few versatile, high-end pieces, and then filling in the margins with kitchen stuff from IKEA.  Therefore, when making this recipe, I did not have all of the tools I needed to follow the recipe exactly. However, I have never been one for following the rules, so this was a great opportunity for me to go rogue and stick it to the Cookbook Industrial Complex.  The recipe called for me to remove the chicken, celery, and carrots from the broth, but since, my self-imposed minimalism has left me without a slotted spoon, and my lack of patience prevented my pulling out all of this with a ladle, I just left them all in the broth when I added the mushrooms.  Also, I do not own a blender, so there was no pureeing taking place in my recipe, just big chunks of mushrooms, carrots, and celery in the soup like nature intended.

Overall, the recipe turned out to be quite delicious.  After I tasted a few bites, I sprinkled in a few pinches of flaky sea salt and some fresh ground black pepper, which really helped to unlock the flavours in the soup.  The soup turned out to be hearty and creamy and quite satisfying. It could be a meal all by itself. I am excited to try it again tomorrow, as I think it will only get better after spending some more time in the fridge, allowing the flavours to come together even more.  I will certainly be returning to this recipe in the future.

And there you have it! Please let us know if you also try making this soup, and how it turns out for you. Our Instagram hashtag is #bakingofftheshelf!

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