Punchy wild mushrooms and the liquorice undertones of tarragon make a pretty good flavour match in this autumnal broth, while spelt provides a satisfying bite. This recipe came to me while watching the closing minutes of Phantom Thread, and while I can’t promise a bowl of it will truly tame an artistic temperament, it will have a good go at quietening any early-onset winter blues. Just make sure you’re on good terms with your local greengrocer.
Mixed Wild Mushroom Soup with Tarragon & Pearled Spelt
15g dried porcini mushrooms
1 tbsp walnut or olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp butter (or use a little more oil if you want to keep it vegan)
300g wild mushrooms, sliced
1.2 litres good vegetable stock
1 star anise
100g pearled spelt
a good splash of Madeira wine
a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
a small bunch of tarragon, roughly chopped
soft goat’s cheese, to serve (optional)
toasted walnuts, roughly chopped, to serve (optional)
Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with water (about 100ml). Leave to soak while you ready the other soup bits.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelise. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt, then add the fresh mushrooms and increase the heat slightly to medium. Cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are wilted and beginning to take on some colour.
Meanwhile, strain the dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking water, and chop them roughly.
Add the stock, star anise and spelt to the pan. Add the chopped soaked mushrooms along with the soaking water, slowly, discarding any gritty bits at the bottom. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the spelt is cooked but still has a bite.
Add a splash of Madeira to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs and serve immediately, topped with a crumble of goat’s cheese and a sprinkle of walnuts, if wished.
Extracted from Nourish Soups by Rebecca Woods (Quadrille, approx €17). Photography © Luke Albert.