Some weeks call for comfort. For bowls steaming with richness, love and warmth. Cooking is how I find I can communicate best – from times of grief to times of joy; food is the tie, for me, that binds. Even when one’s stomach is not hungry a soul can be fed with a kind gesture, a mug of steaming coffee, a plate of something warm.
Last week our extended family lost a very special young man. A man with a mischievous, wild soul and a huge heart, who I am sorely going to miss. While our hearts grieve we find solace in the company of each other, remembering all the best of Cody.
I find though that no matter what the day brings there are still chores to be done, it seems this should not be the case. Instead it feels the world should stand still, frozen while we sift through our feelings. Yet I still have to make dinner, still have to think of deadlines that loom such as this show’s, and as always people still have to eat.
Last fall, a good friend shared with us a front quarter of his moose – here in rural Alaska I can think of no lovelier gesture than bringing subsistence foods to friends. That week I had to duck tape my fridge shut because I had stuffed two moose legs, joints still in the knees, into my fridge for bone broth making when I got a chance between the other processing. I won’t soon forget when I came downstairs in the night to see the glow of light spilling out onto the floor, a hoof jutting out the door, fur still cuffing the ankle – hence the duck tape.
This Hungarian Moose & Mushroom Soup, a recipe I adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook’s original Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe, calls for both pressure canned moose meat and moose bone broth imparting a rich meat flavor to an already hearty, savory soup. I made some additions of garlic, smoked paprika, and a bit of cayenne to add slight heat and depth to the dish and have to say this soup is one to warm up not only your body but, when made with love, can help sooth a soul if you believe in food’s power to do this.
My quick breakdown to making bone broth, is to use a new chop saw blade and cut cleaned bones down to thirds, rinse them to avoid bone fragments or dust in the broth, and fit them all into a large pressure cooker. Fill the pot with water just covering the bones enough to submerge them. After securing the lid, bring the pot up to 10lbs of pressure, then place the weight at 10 lbs. Boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how full the pot is. Allow the pot to fully cool before releasing the pressure dial and opening the lid. Remove the bones and shake out into the broth the marrow remaining in the bone’s hollow. Discard the bones, mine inevitably going to the dogs waiting, salivating at my side. Using an immersion blender blend the broth to break up the marrow chunks, then ladle into clean glass jars for pressure cooking.
For pressure cooking both moose meat and bone broth, I follow these directions from the University of Alaska Fairbank’s Cooperative Extension. I use the same weight and timing instructions for running the pressure cooker for bone broth as I do for the moose meat. Once pressure cooked the bone broth and moose meat are shelf stable in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Hungarian Moose & Mushroom Soup
(1 hour to prepare, serves 5-6)
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 5 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs mushrooms, sliced (I love using mini Portabella’s)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 Tablespoon dried dill (or 3-4 Tablespoons fresh minced dill)
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 3 1/2 cups moose bone broth*
- 1 quart jar of canned moose meat, chopped small*
- 1 cup milk (I used 2% – whatever you have on hand will do)
- 3/4 cup sour cream
***Canned moose may be substituted for leftover roast meat, steak, etc if cut very small. Additionally bone broth can be substituted for beef broth or stock***
In a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven with lid (I like my one gallon stock pot when making this soup) melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the onions and sauté until translucent – about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, salt, dill, paprika, and cayenne. Cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes stirring often. The liquid will eek out of the mushrooms while cooking and the spices will blend nicely. Stir in the lemon juice.
Evenly sprinkle the flour on top and then briskly mix it in to avoid any clumps. Reduce heat to medium low cook, stirring often for another 5 minutes to allow the juices to thicken slightly. Add in the moose meat and bone broth, cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the milk, and taste. Depending on how you season your canned meat (or left over roast, etc) and your tastes, you may need to add a bit of additional salt to bring out your flavors. Whisk in your sour cream, carefully heating to avoid curdling of the cream. Do not boil the soup after the additions of the milk and sour cream!
Serve hot, topped with a small dollop of sour cream & fresh dill or flat leaf parsley if you have it on hand.
Garlic bread makes an excellent accompaniment to this dish. I like to make mine on crusty french bread sliced thin, slathered with butter mixed with very finely minced or powdered garlic, shredded parmesan cheese, then lightly sprinkled with smoked paprika. Finish the bread by toasting it under the broiler, melting and browning the cheese and toasting the crust.