I make this hot pot with seasonally foraged mushrooms. No, I’m not a forager myself, I go hunting through the local farmer’s market and coop and support another’s livelihood. In the spring, when morels are about, I make this with a lighter broth like chicken. When the cooler weather starts to creep into fall, then a slightly richer broth, maybe a mix of beef, chicken and mushroom appear. I make most of my broth stock from scratch, which, beside bones includes a chunk of kombu, leeks and some mushrooms–however, purchased broth works fine if you have neither the time or means.
Spring and autumn are the ideal seasons for harvesting mushrooms–those fun little fungi that have marvelous healing benefits for the body. It seems that no one knows for sure how many varieties of mushrooms exist in nature. Upwards of 10,000 varieties grow in North America alone, and it’s estimated that more that 60-75% of those are edible. Whatever the real number, mushrooms exist in abundance, and they dry quickly and well for storage. Likely mushrooms have saved many a family during the harsh months of winter, when dried mushrooms could be added the stew pot to make a simple, nourishing meal. Nearly every ancient culture have treasured mushrooms for longevity, strength and for treating a number of illnesses and making them deserving of having a place as staple in the diet.