Wild chanterelles are the most coveted of mushrooms. They are delightfully aromatic, beautifully shaped and highly nutritious. They are picked from forests across the country between mid-July to mid-October but Saskatchewan chanterelles are special.
“They are premium because they grow in a semi-arid climate. Saskatchewan chanterelles are dry, perfect round shapes, small size, clean, velvet touch, and the aroma is unbeatable. You don't need to see them but you can smell them when you walk into the forest,” boasts Elisabeth Poscher, professional forager and owner of Prairie Infusions out of Love, SK.
Areas with more rainfall produce large, water logged, floppy chanterelles. Saskatchewan chanterelles are small and dry, because it rains briefly then it's dry, so they come in a hurry and then stay dormant in that shape until it rains again briefly, then they grow a bit more. The drier the climate the more concentrated the chemical compounds in the plant. That is why their scent and flavour are so intense.
Chanterelles are rich in carotenoids and Vitamin A, for eyesight and dry skin. Burbot liver and chanterelles have the most concentrated natural food sources of Vitamin D. Wild edible mushrooms have anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-reducing properties. They enhance the immune system and assist in reducing blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Elisabeth ships them from northern Saskatchewan all over the country and I was so glad I placed my order. This chowder is the perfect autumn lunch.
Chanterelle and Corn Chowder
2 strips smoked bacon, finely chopped
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. yellow onion, finely diced
1 medium celery stalk, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
3/4 lb. chanterelles, coarsely chopped
1 c. fresh corn kernels
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. fresh thyme, leaves only
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 qt. mushroom or chicken stock
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice or more to taste
Cook bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat until just starting to brown, 3-4 minutes, then add butter. When butter has melted, stir in onion, celery and garlic. Cook until tender and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chanterelles and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes or until mushrooms are softened and tender. Stir in corn and potatoes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they begin to soften.
Sprinkle flour over vegetables in pot and stir to coat them with the flour. Add thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Add stock, stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Bring soup to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Remove bay leaf. Stir in cream and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice or salt as needed. Makes 6 cups.