Dried mushrooms (Recipe: mushroom Stroganoff soup, improved)
One undefinable thing to know about dried mushrooms:
I have a big old mason jar where for many years I've stored dried mushrooms. The last time we visited the south of France, too long ago, I purchased two large bags of dried cepes from a mushroom farmer at a small weekly market near the village where my sister-in-law lives. When I got home, I put those mushrooms in the jar, and used them sparingly, because they were a precious souvenir of our travels and also because they were so potent that only small amounts were needed to impart rich flavor. The mushrooms lasted for years, and to this day, every time I open the jar, though the mushrooms are long gone, the aroma of deep woods remains. Damp earth, fresh grass, deep shade: all of those smells stayed in the jar. I can't really define what the woods smell like, just that it's the aroma of dried mushrooms.
Cooking or baking?
In a big old jar, if you have one, or even a new jar, one with a tight-fitting lid. Moisture is the enemy of dried mushrooms, so be sure there are no droplets of water in the jar. Properly stored, they will keep for two years or more. Be on the lookout for mold, and if you see any, toss the entire jar away.
Mushroom Stroganoff soup
Sometimes you make a dish, and right away think of ways to make it even better. I first made this soup with leftover Thanksgiving gravy, and it was perfect. Well, almost perfect. The next time I used ground dried mushrooms to deepen the woodsy flavor, plus thyme from the garden. *To make one cup of brown roux, use one cup of flour with one cup of oil or butter; you could substitute a good quality store-bought gravy or roux. The original version of this recipe appeared on Soup Chick. Serves 6-8.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
10 oz sliced portabella or baby bella mushrooms
1 tsp ground dried mushrooms (porcini, cepes, or portabella)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaf, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup turkey gravy or brown roux
1 quart chicken or turkey stock (homemade or low-sodium store-bought), or homemade mushroom stock
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1/4 cup 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
In a small Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and stir occasionally until they have released most of their liquid. Stir in the ground mushrooms, thyme and red wine; let the wine boil down until it is reduced by half.
Whisk in 1 cup of roux or turkey gravy, then pour in the chicken or turkey stock. Whisk until the liquid is smooth. Cook for 10 minutes.
Season with black pepper. Whisk in the yogurt. Taste, adjust seasoning with more pepper if needed, and garnish with parsley. Serve hot.
Other recipes that use dried mushrooms:
Beef stew with dried mushrooms, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Farro "risotto" with dried portobello mushrooms, from Redacted Recipes
Cream of wild mushroom soup, from Simply Recipes
Scrambled tofu with porcini mushrooms, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Pesto stuffed mushrooms, from Cook4Seasons