Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Arno's Cream of Mushroom Soup (Gobova kremna juha)

This week Heike Milhench, author of Flavors of Slovenia, takes Hippocrene Cooks on a trip to the Slovenian town of Bled, where she discovers a memorable soup at a local restaurant.

Bled is a picturesque town in the foothills of the Julian Alps in Northern Slovenia. A spa town at the turn of the century, it is a wonderful place to spend the weekend if you enjoy hiking, golf, swimming, or lounging by the pool. It also has beautiful old villas, some of which are now quaint hotels and restaurants. An additional treat is the friendliness and the openness of the Slovenian people.

During my first visit to Bled with an old friend of mine, we asked the gentleman at the hotel for a local place to go for a meal and a cold beer. He steered us in the direction of
Gostilna pri Planincu. The minute we walked in, we knew we had found our place. Located in a building dating 1903, the pub and restaurant is very cozy. The bar is decorated with local art, car license plates from around the world, and motorcycle posters. It is truly a local restaurant, and on Sunday afternoons the restaurant is packed with families from Bled enjoying a leisurely meal. Local wines are served, as are local beers on tap. The fare is simple, but delicious, using local ingredients from Slovenia and northern Italy.

Gostilna pri Planincu is a third generation family business, currently owned and managed by Arno Pucher. Arno has traveled the world (hence the license plates) and enjoys entertaining guests from foreign countries. As soon as he heard us speaking English, he bought us a beer, and joined our table. A few hours later we were still talking and laughing with Arno, now enjoying his homemade blueberry schnapps, and listening to stories of his successful motorcycle races.

The following recipe comes from Arno. It is the signature dish of
Gostilna pri Planincu and you must try it. You may use a mix of wild and cultivated mushrooms–feel free to experiment! It is a rich recipe. If you prefer to make it lighter, you may substitute milk for some of the cream, and skip the whipped cream on top (although this truly is a treat!)

Dober tek!

Serves 8
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ pounds mushrooms (button, or a combination of portobello, shiitake, or oyster)
½ teaspoons salt
4 cups beef or vegetable broth
2 cups assorted vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes) cut into small pieces
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon powdered mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 - 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ cups cream
¼ cup of chopped parsley, for garnish
1 cup whipping cream, whipped, no sugar added (optional)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring continuously, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and salt. Continue to cook and stir over medium heat.

Once the mushrooms are tender, after about 10 minutes, add the beef stock, vegetables and herbs. Cook over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the flour.

Slowly add the sour cream mixture to the hot soup, stirring continuously. Add the cream, stirring continuously.

Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Remove the soup from the heat. Serve in bowls and top each with a spoonful of unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of the parsley. Serve immediately with fresh bread and butter.

Pictures courtesy of Heike Milhench.

1 comment:

Eol Ruin said...


Nice to hear from another Arno Pucher.

BTW: that's me: http://claimid.com/arnopucher