Calabrian Mushroom Soup

Zuppa di Funghi Calabrese

The rugged mountains of inland Calabria yield vast quantities of delicious wild mushrooms of many shapes and sizes. In this recipe, they are turned into a delicious soup, poured over a thick layer of coarse toasted bread and covered with a fine layer of freshly grated cheese. Any kind of mushrooms can be used, but the more flavoursome they are, the better the soup will turn out. Do not use porcini (Boletus edulus), as they will overpower any other flavour.

Ingredients

  • lb (800 g) assorted fresh mushrooms, brushed clean
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lard or chopped bacon fat
  • 2 fl oz (50 ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée, diluted with 4 tablespoons warm water
  • pints (1 litre) cold water
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 slices coarse bread or 8 large slices cut diagonally from a French stick, lightly toasted
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Method

Lay the mushrooms out on a wide platter and sprinkle with salt. Heat the lard or bacon fat and olive oil and fry the onion and garlic for about 6 minutes, or until transparent. Then add the diluted tomato purée and stir thoroughly. Add the mushrooms and stir, then pour in the water. Season generously with pepper and bring to the boil, then stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the heat. Lay the toasted bread in the bottom of a warmed soup tureen, pour the soup over the bread and sprinkle with the cheese, then serve at once.

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