Mushroom and Beer Soup isn't a traditional Russian soup, however Russians love all things mushrooms. There are many ways to make mushroom soups with many varieties of mushrooms. When people think of mushroom soup, they usually think of a creamy soup. This is a vegan mushroom soup recipe made without cream, and it's still very tasty.
Russians Love Mushrooms
My first memories of mushrooms came from a book from which we learned to read in Russian from, our Bukvar (Буквар). This was a Soviet state sponsored beginner reader alphabet book. It seemed that the boys and girls in this book always went mushroom picking in the forest. I always wondered where their parents were, and why they were allowed to wander in the Russian forest with all those bears around?
Mushroom picking is definitely part of the Russian culture. My mum went mushroom picking with her friend Molly in Canada, who knew so much about mushrooms, eat the wrong ones and you could die. Wild mushrooms taste so much better than our store bought varieties, and have a different flavour, not all mushrooms taste the same.
My all time favourite is called Shaggy Mane or Lawyer's Wig which can't be bought in a store, as it needs to be used within hours of picking, so good! They've apparently been introduced to Australia, but I haven't seen any of them growing around me. For this recipe, I just used regular mushrooms that you buy in the supermarket.
Can I Use Dried Mushrooms?
Not all soups are made with fresh mushrooms, you can also add dried mushrooms by just rehydrating them. Adding dried mushrooms to your recipes can give a different mushroom taste and a depth of flavour that regular fresh mushrooms can't. I find the Asian grocers seems to have the largest selection of dried mushrooms. I used both in this recipe. You could even make Vegan Mushroom Soup entirely only from dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms have a long shelf too, so that's handy too.
Beer in Soup?
Now beer isn't usually associated with mushroom soup, but I think it goes surprisingly well. Beer is often made with barley, just think of a barley soup, and then you understand how this works in this recipe. Any alcohol boils out and you are left with a subtle barley flavor. If you're unsure, just add half a bottle beer and try it out.
Mushroom and Beer Soup is similar in consistency to Pumpkin Soup, and similar in the way it's blended using a stick blender. I always make homemade vegetable soup stock from scratch because it tastes better and is healthier. You could also make a beef broth as well, but then it wouldn't be vegetarian! Of course it's easier to buy vegetable stock from the store.
This vegan soup incorporates some of the great flavours of Russia; mushrooms, potatoes, barley from the beer, and of course, top it off with thyme and a crusty loaf. Initially I started to make a recipe for Russian Lent, which is supposed to be vegan. I think the beer kind of ruined that idea, even though it boils out. So instead, you get to eat a different type of mushroom soup!
You can't go wrong with this great tasting Vegan Mushroom Soup, something different from the usual. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- 2 litres of vegetable stock
- 1 lb /500g button mushrooms sliced
- 1 lb /500g Portobello mushrooms sliced
- 2 large onions
- 4 medium potatoes cubed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ bottle beer
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 thyme sprigs
- oil for frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make vegetable stock according to directions, or if in a hurry use store-bought stock.
- Cut the onion into quarters and thinly slice. In a frying pan, heat some oil until hot and fry the onions and garlic until golden brown. When they are cooked, slowly add a bottle of beer, bring to a boil and sauté for a few minutes until it reduces. Remove and set aside.
- Brush or rinse the mushrooms clean and thinly slice them. In a frying pan, heat some butter until hot and fry mushrooms for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Divide the mushrooms in half and keep half aside separately to add back into soup after you blended the soup.
- In a large stockpot, add the vegetable stock, half of the fried mushrooms, fried onions, potatoes, bay leaf and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
- Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Using a stick blender or immersion blender, blend the mushroom soup until you have a smooth consistency. Add the remaining mushrooms back into the soup. Optional: can mix throughout a quarter cup of whipping cream.
- Season with fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.