Lobster & Shrimp Mushroom Bisque
Don't be fooled! Made with lobster and shrimp of the woods mushrooms, this bisque is seafood-free, vegan, and gluten-free and yet super rich and creamy thanks to blended cashews.
Lobster Mushroom (Hypomyces lactifluorum)
Lobster mushrooms have a very specific appearance that resembles the outer shell of a cooked lobster: bright orange hard surface dotted with tiny pimples.
Lobster mushrooms are quite unique in that they are created by a parasitic ascomycete fungus that grows on other species of mushrooms, namely on milkcaps (Lactarius and Lactifluus species) and brittlegills (Russula species), turning them a bright reddish orange color that resembles the outer shell of a cooked lobster. In addition, it also changes the shape of the host mushroom, twisting it into odd contortions, and its chemical composition, thereby altering its texture and flavor profile. At maturity, this fungus thoroughly covers and transforms its host mushroom, rendering it unidentifiable.
Occurring only in North America, lobster mushrooms grow in ecosystems where its preferred host mushrooms show up. Since Lactarius, Lactifluus, and Russula species engage in ectomycorrhizal relationships with a diverse array of trees, lobster mushrooms can be found in both hardwood and conifer forests. They grow alone or gregariously and are widely distributed and frequently encountered in summer and fall.
They are popular choice edibles and have a seafood-like flavor and a firm, dense texture that makes them a perfect fit for soups!
Shrimp of the Woods (Entoloma abortivum)
The two versions of Entoloma abortivum: unaborted version on the left, and the aborted version on the right. It is still unclear what causes the mushroom the aborted mushrooms to form, but we know there is some relationship to being in the vicinity of Armillaria mellea.
Entoloma abortivum is a very curious mushroom. There are "two versions" of it. The unaborted version, which looks like a regular mushroom you'd expect, and the aborted version, which looks like either popcorn or golf balls scattered on the ground, depending on its size. It is an edible mushroom that has hints of seafood *hence the common name shrimp of the woods), but most people will only collect the aborted form, since the unaborted version can be confused with a poisonous lookalike Entoloma sinuatum.
It was believed that the honey mushroom, Armillaria mellea, was parasitizing this mushroom. But research has indicated that the inverse may be true. There is still confusion as to what exactly causes the aborted mushrooms to form, but one theory is that they are produced through a reaction with honey mushrooms when growing in the same vicinity.
It commonly grows in leaf litter near decaying wood in eastern North America's hardwood forests in spring and late summer and fall.
Lobster & Shrimp Mushroom Bisque
When I found my first lobster mushroom this past weekend, I immediately knew what I wanted to make. Lobster Mushroom Bisque! How could you not?! But I only found one and that wasn't going to be enough... but I found tons of shrimp of the woods, so here we are, making Lobster and Shrimp Mushroom Bisque.
First, I could not believe the bright orange color I got, which could seriously fool anyone into believing this is a real lobster bisque. Second, this bisque is so rich and creamy you would never know it's vegan. This is of course thanks to the number one vegan and raw cuisine ingredient to create decadent meals without cream and butter: blended cashews.
The bisque comes all together when the sautéed veggies, mushrooms and cashews are blended to create the signature creamy texture of a bisque. Don§t forget to set some mushrooms aside for garnish—unlike most bright mushrooms, the lobster mushroom does not fade—instead it becomes even more intense red when sautéed.
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: 25 minutes
- Servings: 4
- soup pot
- high-speed blender
- large skillet
Because I only found one lobster mushroom, I added some shrimp of the woods in both its aborted and unaborted versions.
- 1 cup cashews, raw, soaked for at least 3 hours if possible)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup carrots, grated
- ½ cup shallots, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 cup shrimp of the woods, roughly chopped
- 1 cup lobster mushrooms, roughly chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp thyme
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- green onions for garnish
- crusty bread for serving
I cooked the two types of mushrooms separately, but if you have a big skillet, you can sauté together.
- Soak 1 cup of cashews for 3 hours or up to overnight. (If you can’t, you can proceed without soaking—they just won’t be as creamy.) After soaking, drain and add them to a blender with 1 cup of vegetable broth to make cashew cream. Blend until smooth in a high speed blender, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add ½ cup grated carrots, ½ cup diced shallots, and 3 cloves pressed garlic to the pot and cook until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the 3 tbsp tomato paste and stir into the vegetables. Add ½ cup wine and stir for 1 minute. Add the cashew cream (reserve 2 tbsp for garnish if you want), remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1 bay leaf, ¾ tsp smoked paprika, ¼ tsp thyme, and ¼ tsp white pepper. Bring to a soft boil, reduce to low and cook for about 10 minutes to develop flavor.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup of roughly chopped shrimp of the woods and 1 cup of lobster mushrooms and sauté until the edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
- Remove the bay leaf and transfer soup mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth. At this point, add the mushrooms (reserve some for garnish) and pulse for a chunky bisque or blend until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide into bowls, garnish with reserved mushrooms and green onions, and drizzle with reserved cashew cream. Serve immediately with some crusty bread!
Let me know what you think in the comments! I'd love to hear from you. Head to my Instagram account @fungiwoman for daily posts about my mushroom adventures. Also, check out my shop for some mushroom-inspired products and sign up for the newsletter to get updates.
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