Hunting and gathering while I hike is my favorite outdoor activity. Most of the time wild mushrooms make me think of autumn; however in the spring there is the Morel mushroom. Like asparagus, fiddleheads, and wild leeks, morels are a harbinger of spring, and a welcome earthy counterpoint to the fresh flavors of other spring edibles found in the wilderness. Morels are also easy to prepare and cook.
Morchella, the true morels, is a edible fungi closely related to cup fungi. These distinctive fungi have a honeycomb appearance, due to the network of ridges composing their cap. Because of the difficulties of domestic cultivation, commercial harvesting of wild morels is a multimillion dollar industry in North America and other parts of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, where these highly prized fungi are found in abundance.
Step 1: Collecting Morels
All Morels are prized edibles, however; some Morels can be toxic if they are eaten with alcohol.
Morels do have a lookalike called False Morel that is not hollow inside and has a cap attached at the top of the stalk. While many people eat false morels without apparent harm, some people have developed acute toxicity and recent evidence suggests that there may be long-term health risks.
It is recommended you cook morels before you eat them.
Found in deciduous forest about the same time Wild leeks start to blossom in the spring, they grow in singles or in clusters on the ground, usually near conifers.
True Morels have a continuous hollow chamber from root to cap as in the pic. The cap can grow up to 8cm wide with characteristic honeycomb surface consisting of black to beige ridges and pits that darkening with age. The stem is white, smooth, irregular and hollow into the cap joining the two as one.
Step 2: Ingredients
2 cups (½ liter) sauté morel mushrooms and diced onion.
2 cups (1/2 liter) diced celery.
½ cup (125 ml) butter
4 cups (1 liter) chicken broth.
½ teaspoon dried thyme.
1 teaspoon salt.
1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
1 teaspoon dried chives.
1 teaspoon dried parsley.
1 cup (250 ml) Crème Fraîche or Heavy Cream
3 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
Step 3: Directions First Step
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Ready in about 1 hour
Morels are wild mushrooms, so it's common to find bugs on or in them. Be sure to check your morels for critters like worms and slugs, they often set up residence in the little frilly nooks in the mushroom caps. There's no reason to avoid morels with worms although heavily infested mushrooms might be more troublesome.
You should also inspect the morels for dirt and debris, cleaning them off with cold water and a pastry brush.
Start by slicing off the tough dirty end portion of each stem.
Then slice the morels in half lengthwise. You'll notice that they're hollow inside. Some people leave them halved, but for soup I like to dice the morels.
I sauté the morels butter until they are lightly browned, then I add diced onion lowering the heat to prevent scorching.
Step 4: Directions Second Step
Melt ¼ cup butter in medium sized stock pot, and sauté the celery until tender.
Add 4 cups chicken broth and sauté morel and onions, let simmer for ten minutes.
After simmering for ten minutes the morel, onions, and celery, should be cooked and the pieces should not be floating.
Step 5: Directions Third Step
In small saucepan, over medium-heat melt ¼ cup butter, stir in flour and add milk. Stir until thick and bubbly, and add to soup.
Step 6: Directions Forth Step
Using a hand blender I puree the soup right in the cooking pot as I add the saucepan of milk.
Then I season the soup with salt, pepper, chives, parsley and thyme.
Step 7: Serve
Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve with crackers or toast.