Omajowa Soup with Thyme and Cream

We Namibian love the rainy season. Aside from the fact that we live in a desert and that  we’re always happy for some greenery, the rainy season also means we get to enjoy Omajowas (species of Thermitomyces) , a giant mushroom that grows on termite nests. Like the nest on this photo.

Dead Tree with Termites' Nest

 

The fungi and termites have a very symbiotic relationship, one cultivates the other. Mankind on the other hand has never been able to cultivate this species.

The season for Omajowa is very short, at most a month and if you’re lucky to travel to the northern and through the central parts of the country, you can buy some from the folks next to the road. They are huge. Big ones can weigh up to 1 kilogram.

They are commonly fried in olive oil and butter and then served on toast, or the tops are grilled in the oven or fried in a pan as “steaks”. Cleaning them is often a pain in the back-side and if not done properly, you could end up with a mouthful of grid.

Termites' Nest

The stems can be quite tough and many people discard them. I like to make soup from them. No fancy stuff, just cream and fresh herbs

Ingredients:

3 Omajova Stems, Roughly chopped
1 ½ liters Chicken stock
1 Onion, Finely chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 thin slices Bacon
1 tablespoon Thyme, Finely chopped
1 tablespoon Flat leaf parsely, Finely chopped
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Olive oil
Black pepper
Salt
200 milliliters Cream

Method:
1. Heat the oil and butter in a large pot. Chop the Omajova stems, onion and garlic and add to the butter and oil. Fry until the onion becomes translucent.

2. Chop the thyme and parsley and add to the vegetables. Fry for a few more minutes.

Omajowa Soup with Thyme and Cream

3. Add add the hot chicken stock to the vegetables and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer for about half an hour. Using a hand blender or food processor blend the soup to a chunky consistency.

4. Add the cream to the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes.

5. In a pan, fry the bacon in a little oil until very crispy. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Chop roughly.

6. Transfer the soup to bowls and sprinkle with chopped bacon.

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