The sunshine streaming over the landscape for the first time in weeks could not go unnoticed. I had to get outside! The rain-soaked hills were beckoning, draped in their fresh carpet of green, calling me to spend the afternoon foraging for elusive wild chanterelles.
The spring mushroom bloom, which started in January, is drawing to a close where I live, and time is of the essence. Plus, a forage excursion is an excellent excuse to wander the coastal woodlands and enjoy a day in the country. If the Mushroom God sought to reward my efforts with a treasure of chanterelles, that would be icing on the cake!
I set out for West Marin and a favorite trail that meanders through stands of live oak—the tree of choice for chanterelles. With my lucky sack in hand and high hopes, I wandered along the path, venturing here and there to scan beneath the oak trees for signs of golden fungi peeking up from the peat. An hour and a half into my hike I was still empty-handed, but undaunted. The day was beautiful, and I was enjoying the warm sunshine on my face.
I recall thinking to myself, “Ok, Universe. All I need is one incredible tree. A ‘honey hole’ (as a fellow foraging friend calls such a find), with a hidden trove of mushrooms waiting just for me!”
I kept at it for another half hour with no luck. Then, at the top of a ridge, I spied a massive old oak that looked promising. Up I climbed, my boots sinking into the saturated soil as I trudged doggedly toward the tree, finally ducking under the outer branches to the inner canopy.
At first, I saw nothing. But as my eyes adjusted to the filtered light, I recognized the object of my desire. The unmistakable, and well camouflaged cap of a golden chanterelle was barely visible in the scattered leaves. Pay dirt!
I plucked the specimen from its hiding place and had just dropped it in my bag when I saw another a few feet away. For the first time, I raised my eyes from the ground to survey my surroundings. I could hardly believe what I saw. There were chanterelles everywhere! Many were larger than my outstretched hand.
As I filled my sack, I sank to my knees and thanked the Great Spirit above for granting my wish.
The earthy scent of the bounty had me salivating all the way home. In the kitchen I spread the haul across the countertop, and carefully weighed my prize. Over eight pounds!
Nearly giddy now, I raced to my archive to dig out this beloved recipe for Cream of Wild Chanterelle Soup. It’s rich, creamy, and completely soul satisfying!
Should you find yourself in possession of this delectable spring mushroom, I highly recommend making a batch.
Printable recipe: Cream of Wild Chanterelles Soup
- 2 pounds chanterelles
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 6 cups beef or chicken bone broth (preferably homemade)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- Gently clean the mushrooms, removing any dirt or debris with a damp paper towel. Roughly chop them. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, onion, mushrooms and parsley. Sauté about 6 minutes or until the juices released from the mushrooms evaporates.
- Gradually stir in the flour and cook for a minute more until thickened, then whisk in 2 cups of the bone broth in small additions until incorporated.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the soup. When creamy, slowly whisk in the remaining 4 cups of bone broth.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the cream, taking care not to let the soup boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crusty sourdough bread and a glass of chardonnay for a perfect meal!