Mushroom & Dill Soup (Kulajda)
Dried mushrooms are the perfect ingredient for winter soups. My family has made this traditional South Bohemian soup with mushrooms, potatoes and poached eggs ever since I can remember. Adding cream and dill finishes the soup to perfection.
Drying mushrooms is one of the best way of preserving them for later. But not all mushrooms are fit for drying. For example, golden chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius or similar C. lateritius and the like) are better sautéed and canned or frozen for later. Boletes are great for drying and their flavor gets intensified through the process.
When I come back from the woods with a good haul of mushrooms, I sort them. I set the older boletes aside for drying. Those are usually Boletus edulis, Leccinum species, Neoboletus luridiformis, or Imleria badia. I also sometimes use young and firm Xerocomus species. I slice them thin about 2-3 mm, arrange them on trays or sheets and let them dry in the sun or in the dehydrator. Or you can also use an oven on a very low temperature. They are best stored in glass jars or in linen sachets, but you have to keep those in a dry place.
Mushroom & Dill Soup
This traditional South Bohemian soup is a mainstay in Czech cuisine and with each family, there's a different recipe and possibly even a name. The most common name is "Kulajda" but my family has always called it "Přivařenka" and we've made this soup ever since I can remember. It's without a doubt my favorite soup ever.
There's always the same set of ingredients that define this soup: mushrooms, potatoes, eggs, dill, and cream. However, the soup owes its unique flavor to the unusual blend of dried mushroom stock (which you make along the way), vinegar, and spices (bay leaf, all spice berries, whole peppercorns). Older and poorer versions of the soup did not include butter or chicken stock, which now elevate the soup and give it depth. Instead of making roux from butter and flour, homemakers used flour whisked in water, which was poured in after boil, and instead of chicken stock, only water was used.
What kind of mushrooms?
The recipe is versatile in that you can work with many kinds of mushrooms. Some sources say it's the most delicious with sautéed fresh golden chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius or similar C. lateritius) but what dish isn't?! I would disagree though that it's the most delicious version. The downside to using fresh golden chanterelles is that you don't get a strong mushroom broth out of them, which is the best part about using dried mushrooms. And that is the most common type of mushrooms I use. My wild mushroom blend usually consists of all types of boletes like Boletus edulis, Leccinum species, Neoboletus luridiformis, and Imleria badia. You get to boil them for 20 minutes before adding the potatoes, which infuses the soup with a strong mushroom flavor. You can also use a mix of sautéed wild fresh mushrooms, such as boletes and chanterelles, including yellowfoot chanterelles (Craterellus tubaeformis and similar species). However, do not use black trumpets (Craterellus cornucopioides or C. fallax and the like), because they will turn your soup black and this is supposed to be a white soup. Finally, you can use store-bought button or cremini mushrooms and they will work just as well.
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: 1 hour
- Servings: 6
- 6 tbsp (85 g) butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 tbsp (46 g) all purpose flour
- 8 cups (1.9 l) chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 all spice berries
- 3 whole peppercorns
- 1lb (500 g) potatoes, diced
- 1.5 oz (42 g) dried mushrooms or 14 oz / 400 g fresh mushrooms
- 7 oz (200 ml) heavy cream (36-40%)
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) vinegar
- 6 eggs
- 1 bunch dill
- Melt butter, add diced onion and sauté until translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add flour and stir to make white roux, about 2 minutes. Do not let it brown.
- Add chicken stock, bay leaf, all spice berries, whole peppercorns, and dried mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. If using fresh mushrooms, sauté them on the side and add to soup in step 5.
- Add potatoes and cook until done, about 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat and add cream and vinegar. Add sautéed mushrooms if using. Stir to incorporate. Crack the eggs inside and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Finally, add chopped dill and remove spices.
- Serve in bowls with one egg per serving.
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