Foraging. It’s an overused word, but it’s what we do. I have never been to a place more silent and peaceful than the forest in autumn. You can hear every step you take, every stick you stand on.
Forest mushrooms are only available for a few months every autumn—they rely on the rains and the cool weather to fruit—so now’s a great time to go looking for them.
This is a cure-all soup. It's easy and super seasonal, so we use whatever we happen to find in the wild. Stinging nettles are one of the most common edible weeds where we are, and slippery jacks one of the most delicious mushrooms (they have a slightly slimy texture that goes great in soups), but the ingredients can be substituted for whatever you’ve got on hand. We make our stock using waste chicken bones from local farmers (see our stock recipe here), but any kind will work fine.
You need to learn about wild mushrooms before you go out foraging. There are lots of poisonous mushrooms in the forest, so it’s essential you know what you are doing before eating anything.
If you don’t have the know-how (or perhaps just can’t get to a forest), you should be able to find slippery jacks at your local health food store or market. If you can’t find any, we recommend oyster mushrooms for a similar texture, saffron milk caps (another forest mushroom) for flavour, or any edible mushroom you can get your hands on.
80g stinging nettles
8 cups of stock
Any chicken left from the stock
400g of slippery jack mushrooms, sliced thinly
6 big spring onion shoots, sliced into small pieces
3 carrots, halved
2 celery sticks, tied with twine
Salt and pepper
Blanch the nettles in boiling salted water for 10 seconds and strain. This stops them from stinging! Pull the leaves from the stalk and set aside.
Fry up half the spring onions and a big pinch of pepper in olive oil over a medium heat. Once the onions start to brown, add the carrots and celery. Fry until fragrant.
Add the stock, mushrooms, nettles and a big pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Turn off the heat and remove the celery and carrots. Serve with chicken, the leftover sliced spring onions and carrots as desired. Salt and pepper to taste.
Lentil and Matt Purbrick are Grown & Gathered: a self-sustainable farm in Victoria. Their website will make you want to pack up and move to the country.