To say they don't travel well is an understatement, so I took them back home before heading out again, on the same path. I wasn't 5 minutes in my walk, when behind a breached stone wall I saw an entire field of ink caps, at various stages of life: from the tiny ones, just pushing through the grass, to the old frayed and dishevelled ones, surrounded by a small pool of inky mush. I was clearly trespassing when I scampered over the wall to get some more mushrooms as it was equally obvious that the owners of the cottage didn't know what to do with all those ink cap mushrooms apart from letting them swiftly rot away...not allowed!
This time I did not turn back, I just pressed on with my walk through the woods and into the fields beyond, hoping I would not loose my footing on the slippery slopes, and with it my lunch. Ink caps are not the best mushrooms for flavour, and definitely not the right ones to sauté, as they tend to almost dissolve in the pan, leaving you with a slippery slop to contend with, so I decided to turn them into soup. By the time I had taken off the stalks (which tend to be hollow and fibrous) I had almost 500g and along with some potatoes from the garden and leftover dried porcini, they made a very nice and warming soup. Perfect with the mini sourdough pumpkin seed rolls that had just come out of the oven. You can used the recipe below for any mushroom soup.
Ink cap mushroom and chives soup
2 small shallots
4 small potatoes
15 g dried porcini mushrooms (boletus edulis)
10-15 very young ink cap mushrooms (or field mushrooms)
1 garlic clove
vegetable stock (or water)
2 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp chopped chives (alternatively parsley)
While you soak the porcini in warm water for about 15 minutes prepare all the other ingredients. Chop the shallots finely, peel and cut the potatoes into cubes and slice the ink cap mushroom. When the porcini are soft, take them out of the soaking water and chop very finely. In a heavy base pan sauté the shallots and garlic clove with the butter, until soft and no longer pungent. Stir in the porcini mushrooms and leave to flavour. Add the diced potatoes then the soaking water of the porcini, making sure there is no grit at the bottom of the bowl.
At this stage add the ink cap mushrooms, stir over high heat and season with coarse sea salt before covering with water. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, lower the heat and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes, when the potatoes should be soft. Using an immersion blender liquidise the soup, add the cream and check the seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped chives or parsley and serve hot with some nice crusty bread.