Dryad's Saddle Soup
Are you having bad luck with the morels? Don’t despair—you can still create a delicious mushroom dish. This mushroom soup is made with the dryad’s saddle polypore, which is very abundant in the spring during morel season. It’s simple to make and comes together in about a half hour, boasting strong mushroom and herb flavor.
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Dryad’s Saddle (Cerioporus squamosus)
Cerioporus squamosus is easy to identify thanks to its semicircular shape and a characteristic pattern of brown scales on a whitish/ochre cap.
Cerioporus squamosus, also known as dryad’s saddle, is an annual polypore that grows in the spring as well as fall on hardwood trees and stumps. The common name refers to the mushroom shape and creatures in Greek mythology called dryads, who are tree nymphs or tree spirits that could apparently fit and ride on this mushroom! The mushroom starts off as a small stubby knob that develops into a kidney-shaped or semicircular whitish to ochre cap with brown scales and a thick, short stem with pores running down it. Eventually, the stem turns black—at this point the polypore is too old to be good to eat. Learn more about it in my Cerioporus squamosus mushroom profile.
Taste & Edibility
Cerioporus squamosus is edible. Use the young specimens for pickling, sautéing or frying. Once the mushroom matures, the flesh becomes tough, but you can still use it to make delicious mushroom stock—simmer it for 1-2 hours with some veggies (onions, carrots, celery and garlic) and spices (1 bay leaf, 3 peppercorns, 3 all spice). The mushroom has a mildly nutty flavor and the cucumber/watermelon smell disappears with cooking. Read the Edibility and Taste section in the Cerioporus squamosus mushroom profile to learn more and how to identify young specimens.
Dryad’s Saddle Soup
This mushroom soup is made with the dryad’s saddle polypore, which is very abundant in the spring during morel season. It’s simple to make and comes together in about a half hour, boasting strong mushroom and herb flavor. Top it with some thinly sliced, sautéd dryad’s saddle pieces to add some texture.
Please be extremely careful cooking and eating foraged mushrooms. Never eat a mushroom that you are not 100% sure of its ID. The best way to learn how to identify and forage for edible mushrooms in your area is to join a local mushroom club or go with a trusted mushroom identifier or a mycologist. Then, even if you are 100% sure of its ID and know it's an edible mushroom, always try small quantities of a new mushroom first before eating a large batch to make sure it sits with you well.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Servings: 4
4 tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion (chopped)
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced garlic
1.5 pounds (700 g) dryad’s saddle mushroom, very thinly sliced
½ cup jasmine rice
⅓ cup white wine
5 cups mushroom stock (or chicken/vegetable stock)
½ cup cream (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Salt and pepper
LEFT: Mushroom stock from the tougher parts of the dryad’s saddle is used as the main liquid ingredient and adds additional mushroom flavor to the soup. RIGHT: Sauté the thinly sliced dryad’s saddle mushrooms along with garlic, onions, and thyme.
Put 2 tbsp butter in a large pot that can later be covered over medium heat. When it melts, add the onions, garlic, and thyme and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium high, and add the dryad’s saddle mushrooms, reserving about a handful for garnish to be sautéd later. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and begun to brown, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the rice and stir, toasting the rice for about 2 minutes. Add the wine to the pot and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom as the liquor starts to bubble. Add the mushroom (or chicken/vegetable) stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook, covered, until flavors have melded and the rice is cooked, about 15 minutes.
Put the remaining 2 tbsp butter to another pan. When it melts, add the remaining dryad’s saddle mushrooms. Stir once and then let brown, about 5 minutes. Stir once more and let brown further until crispy.
Discard the herb stalk from the liquid. Reduce the heat to low, and purée the liquid with a hand-held mixer or transfer to a blender. Blend to desired consistency. (I like it a bit chunky, so I use the pulse setting on my blender on medium speed about 4-5 times. Then I pour it back to the pot, leaving behind about 1 cup to completely purée. This creates the perfect combination of chunky and creamy!)
Add the cream if you’re using it; stir to combine and heat through for a few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning; garnish with the crispy dryad’s saddle mushrooms and parsley. Serve!
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