Foraging for mushrooms is a very popular activity in Ukraine, and one of the best places to go is the Carpathian mountains. This Carpathian mushroom soup is a recipe I learned at a guesthouse near Vorokhta and it is one of my favorite soups to make!
One of my favorite Ukrainian recipes is something that’s pretty close to my heart: Carpathian Mushroom Soup. Since I live in Ukraine I visit the Carpathians a few times a year and there’s nothing better on cold Autumn mountain nights than this traditional soup. This recipe is sometimes called Ruthenian Mushroom Soup, as that was the name of Ukrainians in Latin based languages, but Carpathian Mushroom Soup is more specific and localized to the mountain range. Also, for those that care, this soup is vegan!
Last week Alona and I decided to go mushroom hunting in the forest and pick some of the tastiest ‘shrooms we could find. Of course, the prize mushrooms are ceps, or Porcini. It is part of the boletes family, and they are quite expensive, so by hunting for them myself I was able to save some money.
This mushroom soup recipe also features in my great mushroom recipes for Autumn because it really is an iconic fall treat here.
The thing with mushrooms is that sometimes they have to be prepared in special ways. For this Carpathian mushroom soup the Porcini mushrooms should be dried. This gives them a fantastic nutty flavor. You can buy them dried at the store, or do it yourself. Luckily Alona’s grandmother cleaned and dried them all for us by using her burners and a drying rack.
Do You Need To Dry Your Own Porcini Mushrooms?
If you do not want to hunt and dry your own mushrooms do not worry. Dry Porcini are available at most major grocery stores around the world. For this recipe I use about an ounce of dry mushrooms, but you can use more or less depending on how much soup you want.
Now the trick with using dry mushrooms is you have to reconstitute them. Seems counterproductive, no? But trust me, that’s just what has to be done. Take the mushrooms and place them in 4 quarts of warm (not hot) water. Let sit for at least 8 hours, or overnight. When I make this soup I start soaking them right after breakfast so the soup is ready by dinner. I have another recipe for a Galician mushroom soup where you just pour boiling water over them and let them sit for an hour so that method can also work as well if you are in a rush.
Whatever you do, do not throw out the soaking liquid. This is actually the delicious mushroom stock in which we will make our soup. When you have soaked the mushrooms, you can remove the mushrooms for the stock, cut them to bite size pieces and set them aside.
Other ingredients for this recipe are an onion (peeled and halved), one large carrot (finely chopped), one large potato (finely chopped), and 6-8 champignons, sliced. If there is an ingredients you don’t particularly like, you can of course leave it out. In fact, I would even recommend subbing the champignons for king oyster mushrooms (which I sadly ran out of the day before making confit mushrooms for my ‘There’s Shroom For Two’ burger).
How To Make A Traditional Carpathian Mushroom Soup
If you’re not wearing a vyshyvanka it’s going to be pretty hard to make a traditional Carpathian mushroom soup. Just kidding, this is actually one of the easiest soups I have on the blog! In fact this soup and borsch are two of my favorite Ukrainian soup recipes! Step one, heat up a little bit of oil in a pot.
Add the carrots and mushrooms and sauté them a bit. Then, when the carrots have softened and the mushrooms have released some of their water, about 10 minutes, add in a tablespoon of flour to absorb the excess fat. I would also recommend adding a pinch of salt and some black pepper at this stage.
Once the flour is mostly cooked off you can ladle in the mushroom stock until about two inches from the top of the pot. Bring everything to a boil, and then add in the onion and potato along with the reconstituted dry Porcini. Also add in half a cup of small dry pasta. Some people would say this is not traditional, but every restaurant in the Carpathians I’ve eaten this soup at adds a bit of pasta. I picked up some mini orecchiette since they are the perfect size for a soup spoon. Put the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes are up turn off the heat and test the potato and pasta for done-ness. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, then ladle into bowls and serve. Enjoy this classic Carpathian Mushroom Soup with a side of pickled cucumbers or a few shots of horilka.
Carpathian Mushroom Soup
- 30 grams Dry Porcini Mushrooms 1 ounce, rehydrated at least 8 hours in 4 quarts of warm water. Do not throw out the stock after reconstituting.
- 1 large Carrot finely chopped
- 1 Onion peeled and sliced in half
- 1 large Potato finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Flour or more depending on how much oil is there
- 1 tbsp Oil you can use butter instead, it's totally up to you
- 8 Champignon or about 50-100 grams of any fresh mushroom you prefer. I'd actually go with King Oyster mushrooms if you can find them, or bay boletes will work well too.
- 1/2 cup Dry Pasta something small. I use mini orecchiette but you can use any dry small pasta. Note: if you use an egg pasta that will turn this dish vegetarian instead of vegan.
- Salt to taste
- Pepper freshly cracked, to taste
- Dill optional, garnish
- In a pot on medium heat add the oil, and then the carrot and fresh mushrooms. When the carrot begins to soften and the mushrooms brown (about 10 minutes) add the flour to absorb the oily liquid at the bottom of the pot. Add a pinch of salt.
- Add in the Porcini stock (dry mushroom rehydrating liquid) a ladle at a time. Stop when you are about 2 inches (5cm) from the top of the pot. Bring to a boil.
- Add in the potato, pasta, onion, and rehydrated porcini mushrooms. Reduce to a simmer and put a lid on the pot. Let cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and pasta are soft. Taste to adjust salt and pepper to your preference.
- Take off the heat and ladle into bowls to serve. Garnish with chopped dill if you desire, or leave plain.