The Island Epicure – Mushroom Herb Soup
February 2024, Recipes

The Island Epicure – Mushroom Herb Soup

By Marjorie Watkins and Suzanna Leigh

Nothing warms us on a cold winter’s day – or night – as well as a bowl of hot soup, whether it is the beginning of lunch or dinner. This recipe comes from the Caucasus range of mountains, where they say the men all live to the age of 100 years. The diet of the people living in the Caucasus makes good use of local plants, such as mushrooms.

Many mushrooms have healing qualities, but some are poisonous, so you have to be careful. We went mushroom-hunting here on the Island once with Steve Self. There are many kinds. We found champignon, the common white button mushrooms that are good to eat. The French name for mushroom is champignon. But there is a white mushroom that is very poisonous. The red ones with white dots, you aren’t supposed to eat those. They will make you sick. And there are yellow ones with white dots; they could kill you. I don’t trust myself to pick up mushrooms that are safely edible. I would rather get them from the store.

Suzanna says chanterelles you can pretty much tell, and they are very good. They are kind of an orangish color, funnel-shaped, and kind of frilly. They don’t have the typical caps and stems like most mushrooms. I don’t know where they grow; I’ve never found them, but other people have. They are easy to identify, and people have found them even here on the Island. Sometimes, Thriftway carries them.

Suzanna also remembers hunting bolete mushrooms with Steve. Instead of gills, they have kind of a sponge on the bottom. They are pretty much all edible, although Suzanna says she thinks the king boletes might have upset her stomach a little.

The king boletes have a red top and spongy bottom, with a white stem. They aren’t the poisonous amanita muscaria, which have a red top with white dots, gills underneath, and a white stem. The best boletes are tawny on top, kind of a golden tan, and spongy on the bottom, and can be very large. But you have to eat them right away (fried in butter!), because there’s a little worm or something that loves them. If you don’t eat them right away, pretty soon you don’t have any to eat.

I’m sure portobello mushrooms would be good in this recipe; you can get those at Thriftway. And of course, the common mushrooms you can buy in the grocery store are good too.

Mushroom Herb Soup

Makes 4 servings

⅓ cup butter

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 cups sliced, fresh mushrooms

4 cups chicken stock or chicken bouillon

½ cup chopped, mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, parsley, or coriander

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onions. Saute 3 minutes.

Add lemon juice and sliced mushrooms. Saute 4 minutes.

Pour in chicken stock or bullion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook slowly for 15 minutes.

Enjoy the flavors. Serve with pumpernickel bread and cheese for a whole meal.

February 9, 2024

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marj and suzanna