Morel Mushroom Soup

Our dear Lizzie has quite the discerning palate -- and when I say discerning, I mean that she's impossibly picky, even for a toddler. Last May, we celebrated her second birthday at The Woodspeen near Newbury, which is a village about an hour west of London. Lizzie is partial to all things crunchy junk and food she can suck out of a packet -- she eats like an astronaut, by choice -- so we thought wild mushroom soup would have the best chance of making it past her tight, stubborn lips. 

To her credit, she did eat a couple spoonfuls, but alas, decided that wild mushroom was a bit too sophisticated for her two-year-old palate. So, Mom ended up eating Lizzie's soup as well (not complaining), alongside ballantine of pigeon (below photo) and lamb rump roast for lunch. Dad had scallops and monkfish. 

The soup was fabulous: intensely fungal, full of umami and rounded out with cream. The menu didn't say what kind of "wild mushrooms" were in the puree, but as it was morel season -- both in the U.S. and the U.K. -- and because I could taste and smell the heady, familiar aromas, I'd say morels was a solid guess. One slurp, and I quickly made a mental note to recreate the soup at home. 

Before we left for vacation, Rick and I did have some luck with morels this spring. Although we didn't regret the once-in-a-lifetime (maybe) trip to witness King Charles III's coronation on May 6, 2023, having to leave during the peak of morel season did tug at our hearts a little.

So, Lizzie proceeded to eat her weight in Keebler cheddar sandwich crackers throughout lunch service, littering crumbs all around her high chair, as she would do at every restaurant we visited during those two weeks. And Rick and I got to enjoy a beautiful British meal, a couple cocktails and some wine to celebrate another year around the sun with the little "wild cat," or "pain in the a**" as I sometimes call her, sitting between us.

The Woodspeen staff were good humored and wonderful.


I made this soup for Rick's birthday recently using dried morels. I seem to cook more dried morels than fresh these days, because I'm usually too busy during the season to cook and eat them. We dehydrate and then freeze the mushrooms to enjoy year round. Reconstituted in warm water overnight, they taste almost as good as fresh. 

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
- 1.5 ounces dried morel mushrooms, plus extra
- 4 tbs. of butter
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 small leeks (or 2 medium), washed thoroughly and white parts chopped
- 8 ounces of white button mushrooms, quartered
- 8 ounces of cremini/baby bella mushrooms, quartered (woody stems removed)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/3 cup of dry sherry
- 1.5 quarts of reserved morel mushroom water and/or chicken stock*, plus extra
- Kosher salt
- Dash of ground white pepper
- Heavy cream, to taste
- Creme fraiche, to taste
- Pinch of MSG, optional
- Minced chives 

*I'm partial to using Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base and water.

1. Soak dried morels in hot water for about 20 minutes, or until plump and pliable. If you have time, soak morels in water overnight in a covered container, refrigerated. Keep morels in the liquid until you're ready to cook them. Do not throw away the liquid. 

2. In a soup pot, add butter, shallot and leek and sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat. Then cover and cook on low for 10 minutes -- do not brown -- stirring occasionally. Next, add quartered white button and cremini mushrooms and sauté over medium heat until they're wilted and shrunken, allowing extra liquid to evaporate, stirring often.

3. Then add reconstituted morels (reserve the liquid), thyme and garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Next, cover the pot and cook on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

4. Next, return heat to medium and add dry sherry, allowing the alcohol to cook off slightly for 30 seconds. Then add enough morel mushroom water and chicken stock to submerge all ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer. Take off heat and discard thyme sprigs. 

5. Puree mushroom and stock mixture until completely smooth in a blender. Return puree to pot and add more chicken stock to thin out the soup to your liking. Add heavy cream, salt and white pepper, to taste. I also added a tiny pinch of MSG for additional depth. Heat thoroughly, but do not allow soup to boil. Serve with a dollop of creme fraîche and minced chives. If you have extra morels, sautée them (always cook morels before eating) to garnish each bowl.