The cuisine of Montenegro offers a treasure of velvety, comforting and unctuous mushroom soups. Over there, it is called čobanska krem supa od vrganja or velvety mushroom soup.
The Republic of Montenegro, Crna Gora in Serbian, which means “black mountain” is a very small mountainous state in the southwest of the Balkans, bordering Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania and the Adriatic Sea.
It is called the pearl of the Adriatic. It is a tiny country in southern Europe of just 5,333 square miles, with a population similar to Washington DC. However, it is a giant jewel of nature!
The cuisine of Montenegro is strongly influenced by Italian and Turkish cuisines, for historical reasons, but also by the cuisines of neighboring countries as well as that of Austria and Hungary.
Montenegro cuisine uses fresh ingredients, grown or produced locally, and most often organic. Despite the small size of the country, its cuisine includes at least three different regional styles: Old Montenegro cuisine, mountain cuisine and coastal cuisine.
The elements that dominate the cuisine of old Montenegro are pršut (smoked ham) and sir (cheese). Any specialty whose name contains the adjective njeguški will be an authentic Montenegrin dish prepared with these two ingredients.
More like the Serbian, the traditional cuisine of the northern mountain regions consists of hearty meat dishes, ideal for providing warmth and support for long winter nights. A typical cooking method of this region, called ispod sača, consists of roasting meat and vegetables under a metal lid called sač, covered with embers, usually placed in a fireplace in the middle of the room to heat the room.
And finally there is the coastal cuisine that consists of delicious and simple specialties: many grilled fish with garlic garlic and olive oil as well as dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.
I was surprised to find recipes from the former Yugoslavia so close to Austrian, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish cuisines. Then all became clear when I discovered the history of the region. For several centuries, the Adriatic coast belonged to the Republic of Venice, the north to the Austro-Hungarian empire and the south has long been under the influence of the Ottoman Empire. This explains this diverse and colorful cuisine. Thus, sarma , cevapi or ajvar are all testimonies of five centuries of Turkish domination.
Just like in the Czech Republic, Montenegrins love soup and often start meals with a soup. And just like in the Czech Republic, mushroom is sacred in Montenegro! Discover kuladja polévka and a little history of mushrooms.
One third of Montenegro is covered with forests. Who says forest often says mushrooms. The first data ever recorded about Montenegro mushrooms was published in Cracow by two renowned masters in botany Beck & Szyszylowicz in 1888. Later, a Czech mycologist, Bubak, visited Montenegro three times from 1901 to 1904. He explored several areas and mentioned more than 700 varieties of mushrooms.
Like most Europeans, Montenegrins are fans of mushrooms. Mushroom picking is not only a weekend hobby but an important source of income. In fact, a good amount of truffles, boletes and other exotic mushrooms sold in Western Europe are from the forests of Montenegro and Kosovo.
But beware! All mushrooms are not edible! And know that mushrooms have a bible. A bible with its commandments! Mostly tips to avoid mistakes and avoid poisoning… or death!
(Source: The Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America:)
1. Never eat a mushroom unless it is positively identified as edible. Mistakes can result in toxic reactions ranging from mild gastric upset to death. If in doubt, throw it out!
2. Eat only fresh mushrooms that are free from infestation by insects or larvae. Mushrooms can spoil, and eating any spoiled food can cause food poisoning or other adverse reactions.
3. Thoroughly cook all mushrooms unless they are specifically known to be edible raw. Some mushrooms contain toxins or gastrointestinal irritants that must be destroyed by cooking.
4. Eat mushrooms only in moderate quantities. Mushrooms are not easily digested; overeating them is an easy way to get sick.
5. When trying a mushroom for the first time, eat only a small portion, and don’t try any other new kinds for forty-eight hours. As with many kinds of food, some people are sensitive or allergic to mushrooms commonly eaten by other people. Individuals with known food allergies or sensitivities should be extra careful when trying mushrooms new to them, especially those species known to present problems for some individuals.
6. Don’t pick mushrooms from contaminated habitats. These included polluted areas, chemically treated lawns, ornamental trees, and places close to highways, landfills, toxic waste sites, crop fields, power lines, railroads, buildings, industrial areas, or firebreaks. Contaminants may accumulate in wild mushrooms.
7. Never assume that a wild mushroom you find overseas is the same edible species you know from North America or vice versa. Too many serious cases of mushroom poisoning occur because vacationers and immigrants unwittingly gather dangerous look-alike species not found in their native lands.
8. Be conservative about feeding wild mushrooms to children, the elderly, and the infirm. Avoid edible species known to cause adverse reactions in some people, and don’t let children, the elderly, or persons in poor health try an unfamiliar kind of wild mushroom until you and other friends or relatives have identified and eaten it without any adverse reactions. Limit portion sizes for children, the elderly, and the sick because they’re generally more susceptible to toxins than other people are.
9. When trying a mushroom for the first time, save a few intact, uncooked specimens in the refrigerator for forty-eight hours. If someone develops an illness within two days after trying an unfamiliar mushroom, the physician may want expert identification to rule out the mushroom as the culprit.
10. Examine every specimen in every collection of mushrooms to avoid inadvertent mixing of different species. Even experienced mushroom hunters can err if they become careless and fill their baskets too hurriedly.
This velvety mushroom soup is a real wonder!
- ½ lb mushrooms , fresh or frozen (boletes, porcini, oyster or others)
- 3 scallions , finely chopped
- 5 carrots , sliced
- 1 stalks celery
- 5 medium potatoes , cut into chunks
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Remove the earthy part of the mushroom stems, quickly rinse under water and pat dry gently.
- Slightly heat olive oil in a large skillet.
- Sauté onions on medium low, stirring constantly.
- Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Finally, add the carrots, celery and potatoes and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Cover with boiling water and cook for 45 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the heavy cream 5 minutes before the end of cooking and stir regularly.
- Put everything in a blender and mix until reaching a smooth texture.