The winter in Finland can be rough. Especially if you, like me, come from a temperate country and the concept of the real, hard winter is completely foreign to you. Foreign to the point of never having seen it snow before let alone experience the ankle-deep snow, biting cold and 18h hours a day of darkness that is winter up North. After ten years though, I think I’ve made my peace with the Scandy winter. Actually to the point where I think I would miss it were I to move back home. To like the snow, accept the cold and to to deal with the darkness.
The thing about having no real seasons is that everything is very much the same. Change will teach you to appreciate the experiences you have now, as they won’t be here for ever and to look forward to new things to come. In the winter, I look forward to new potatoes in the spring. In the spring, to awesome fresh berries in the summer. In the summer, to mushrooms in the autumn.
One might think that in the culinary sense there aren’t many joys here in January. -10C and a foot of snow ain’t exactly optimal conditions for growing stuff. But there are even upsides to that. With proper seasons comes the benefit of seasonal food. Just as summer is the time of berries and fresh produce, winter is the time to sit in the winter sill, watch the snow fall and revel in the serenity of winter. Whilst working you way through a big bowl of hearty soup.
- 350g button mushrooms
- about 25g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1.5L stock
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 250ml single cream
- salt and black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- herbs of your choice
- olive oil
Mushrooms: the mix I used above is a (tasty) example. As a rough guide you need about 400g of fresh mushrooms (or equivalent). It’s ok with just button mushrooms but delicious if you can get your hands on some wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, giroles, porcini/cepp or anything else you like. I would still keep at least half of the mushies are plain button as it will get very expensive if you use all wild mushrooms (unless you’re knowledgable/brave enough to go picking your own).
It’s completely fine to use dried mushrooms – if it’s the middle of winter and you don’t have access to fresh. Justkeep in mind that they weigh a lot more ‘wet’, so that you need much less in their dried form.
Herbs: you can use fresh if you have them and if not dried are fine too. I like sage with mushrooms personally. Thyme is also lovely.
- Place a large saucepan on a medium to high heat with a generous amount of olive oil in it.
- Dice the carrots and onions and add them to the pot and allow them to sweet and soften without taking colour.
- Slice the fresh mushrooms and add them to the pot with a generous amount of salt and black pepper.
- Sweat the mushrooms down until no more moisture will come from them.
- Add the herbs and the stock and any fried mushrooms, if you’re using them and turn the heat down to medium.
- Leave for approximately 30 minutes until such time as the mushrooms, carrots and onions are completely tender.
- With a stick blender (if you have one) or with a food processor or standing blender, blitz the soup to form a smooth cream. At this point the soup should thicken noticeably. Taste it and adjust the seasoning.
- If you wish to intensify the mushroom flavour still more, you can leave the soup to blip away and reduce further.
- When you’re happy add the cream, mix and serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs on top.