Mixed Review: FungusAmongUs Smoked Oyster Mushroom Chowder
Along with gourmet cheeses, fine wines, and heritage meats, I've recently had to cut back on my consumption of wild mushrooms. In these trying economic times I simply can't justify spending a lot of money on fancy porcinis and chanterelles. This is unfortunate because in the winter months there is nothing I love more than a warming bowl of mushroom soup. That's why I couldn’t wait to try FungusAmongUs Smoked Oyster Mushroom Chowder. At just $5.95 it promised four hearty, organic servings in only 20 minutes.
FungusAmongUs was founded in Seattle in 1993 by Michael and Lynn Monroe. What began as a hobby (growing shiitakes in a corner of their garage) soon blossomed into a booming business. Today, the Monroes operate the largest gourmet mushroom farm in the state of Washington. Their products, which range from bulk dried mushrooms to fancy truffle salt, are sold across North America and online.
To make the soup, all I had to do was combine the mix (made from skim milk powder, oyster mushrooms, carrots, and spices) with two cups of water and two cups of cream, and then simmer everything for twenty minutes. While the mix looked fairly encouraging—there were lots of flavorful-looking chunks of dried mushrooms, veggies, and herbs—I decided to add a cup of chopped fresh portobello mushrooms I had on hand. I also swapped the water for chicken stock, and replaced one cup of cream with 2 percent milk in an effort to make my lunch a bit healthier.
For the first ten minutes of cooking the chowder looked suspiciously thin, and I began to wonder if I should have splurged on the calories and stuck with the extra cream. But after the full 20 minutes of simmering, it thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon with a creamy glaze.
The flavor of the chowder was quite good: woodsy, smoky, and luxuriously rich. Though a tad on the salty side, it tasted much fresher than many packaged soup mixes I've tried. The carrots reconstituted nicely and I detected hints of scallion and parsley. The fresh mushrooms provided a toothsome, chunky touch, and made me think this soup mix would be a great base for all sorts of additions, such as chicken, peas, or potatoes. While it wasn't quite as good as homemade, by the time I finished my bowl of mushroom chowder, I was happy as a clam.