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Simple Comfort Food for the Heart of Winter

Splendid Table has a great Ukrainian recipe for a mushroom soup that is sure to warm you to the bones during the chillier months; click on the link below. We recommend throwing Blue Oysters (Pleurotus columbinus) in to this recipe where it calls for 'wild mushrooms', because they're a cold seasonal and wood-loving species used in European folk medicine for their immune-system-boosting benefits during cold and 'flu season. If you're not a huge fan of buckwheat, you can easily substitute pearl barley, lentils, split peas or chickpeas.

Adding dried, ground Oyster Mushrooms to soups, stews and sauces is a great way to thicken the liquid base, since most dried mushrooms typically absorb about five times their weight in water as they rehydrate. A coarsely ground mushroom (like ours!) will still have some larger shreds in the mix, which we find gives a soup just the right hearty mouthfeel. Even if we're just heating up a canned soup, throwing in a tablespoon or two of our grounds adds a lot to the interest and complexity of the texture and flavour. I do the same to the sauce when I'm making our weekly family favourite, Spaghetti Bolognese - don't tell the kids!

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