Polish Mushroom Soup for Thanksgiving Dinner

For our family Thanksgiving dinner we usually include too much food, too much laughter and too much family(sometimes).  For the past twenty years or so, ever since my parents sold their big house, we host Thanksgiving at our house and I am the main chef/cook for this dinner.  Over the years, I learned my lesson and allowed others to help by bringing portions of the meal.  In the beginning I pretty much did it all myself driving myself absolutely bonkers with the stress of feeding 10 to 20 people depending on the year.  This year it looks like around 15+ for dinner and maybe more for desserts and left over Thanksgiving dinner sammies later that night.
Our day starts with the Macy’s parade, as it should.  We watch while I cook and while others decorate my Christmas tree(I blogged about our tree and the process of putting it up).  Our kitchen opens to the family room where the main tree resides which makes for a much happier state of affairs.  There is a general pleasant banter, good jokes abound and the mood is festive.  People start arriving during the morning while the parade is on and stay till late in the evening.  There are some that float in and out at different times but it is all in good fun and everyone is happy to see each other.
For the past 15+ years we’ve start our meal with a Polish mushroom soup from Martha Stewart’s mother Mrs. Kostyra.  I got this recipe online in the late 1990’s; they republished it in 2003 with some changes but, I still make the original version.  This soup is fantastic….if you love mushrooms.
One year I went off book and made a different soup, cannot even remember what that soup was now but, there was a mutiny.  Before the meal was over there was so much moaning and groaning, I thought I was due to be drawn and quartered for this grave infraction in the soup world.  My family is mostly mushroom lovers and they now demand this laborious soup, starting a couple weeks before Thanksgiving with gentle reminders of their need to “taste that fantastic mushroom soup again” or “don’t forget that year you made the Other soup?” or out and out threats…”you ARE making mushroom soup AREN’T you?  Remember what happened last time you didn’t?”

If you want to make it, I suggest simplifying your life; start the weekend or at least a few days before you want to serve it.  It cannot be made the day you want to serve it unless you get up at 3am.  I make it all the way through step #6 then refrigerate it.  Warm it on the day you want to serve in a crock pot or on medium low heat on top of the range and finish it with the sour cream.  Mushroom Nirvana!

 polish mushroom soup

Mrs. Kostyra’s Mushroom Barley Soup

Mrs. Kostyra used Polish borowik mushrooms in this recipe, but dried porcini work just as well.
Serves:  8 – 10 generous servings
Source:  Martha Stewart Living


  • 5 to 6 ounces dried mushrooms, such as Polish borowik or porcini

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 12 large fresh portabella or shitake mushrooms sliced approx 1 pound

  • 1 pound sliced fresh button mushrooms

  • 3 quartsBeef Stock

  • 2 large onions finely chopped

  • 5 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

  • 5 ribs celery, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup orzo (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (optional)

  • 1 cup sour cream


  1. Rinse dried mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in 2 cups water in a small bowl and let soak at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain mushrooms reserving liquid. Then drain liquid thru a coffee filter to remove any remaining sand or grit. Chop the reconstituted mushrooms before adding to soup stock.

  2. Add reconstituted dried mushrooms to some of the stock and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 40 minutes.

  3. Bring remaining stock to a boil. Add carrots, onion, celery and fresh mushrooms.  Cover and continue cooking until carrots are tender, about 30-45 minutes.

  4. If adding orzo, bring soup to a boil, add orzo, stir, and reduce heat to gentle simmer. Stir occasionally to keep pasta from sticking. Cook 6 to 8 minutes till orzo is cooked through.

  5. If using thickener: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook stirring constantly till flour is cooked. About 3 to 5 minutes. Remove about 1 cup of broth from soup and add to the roux whisking constantly till slightly thick and free of lumps.  Stir thickened mixture into soup.

  6. Add chopped parsley and dill. Season with salt and pepper.

  7. Soup may be finished with sour cream: Add ¼ cup of soup to sour cream whisk till smooth.  Add this mixture to the soup whisking till incorporated about 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

  8. To hold soup and serve for a buffet: fill bowl with soup, place a small dollop of sour cream on the top of the soup and sprinkle with a sprig of dill. Let your guests add their own sour cream to soup.

  9. Enjoy!

If you’d like to see step by step how to make this recipe, Martha and her mother work together on a YouTube video.


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