retreat-worthy: shiitake mushroom and veggie soup

shiitake mushroom soup

Another soup, just in time for the cold weather!  This recipe is derived from the version in Amrita Sondhi’s The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.  My mom used to cook with dried shiitake mushrooms all the time, and I hadn’t until now – turns out it’s really simple!  You just let them soak in room temperature water for at least an hour (she would suggest overnight) so they hydrate and soften for cooking.  Fresh shiitake mushrooms are an option too, but they are harder to find.  I usually buy mine at an Asian grocery store, though a big chain store probably has them as well.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free (if you use gluten-free tamari), and worthy of being eaten any day, retreat or not.

Shiitake mushroom and vegetable soup

makes 6-8 servings

12 (58 g) dried shiitake mushrooms
6 c. water for soaking
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c. onions, finely diced (about 1/4 large onion)
1 cup carrots, chopped into half moons (about 2 carrots)
2 cups sweet potatoes or 1/2 acorn squash, peeled, chopped into small chunks
1 large handful Chinese cabbage, finely sliced, or baby bok choy (I prefer the bok choy, it’s just so pretty, and also delicious)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/3 cup tamari (gluten-free if possible)
1/4 cup brown miso paste
1/4 cup green onions, finely sliced (garnish)

Let the mushrooms soak in the water for at least an hour, or perhaps overnight.  Save the soaking water for making the soup, and slice the mushrooms.

In a large stockpot, gently saute the onions in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  When they start to soften, add the carrots and sweet potatoes (or acorn squash).  Stir occasionally, letting the vegetables grow bright in colour.  Add the sliced mushrooms and soaking water.  Top off with additional water if required to just cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil.  Cover, and reduce heat to a simmer until the vegetables are just cooked through.  Stir in the Chinese cabbage or baby bok choy, and let cook for 5-10 minutes longer until the greens are tender.  (I tend to leave the bok choy whole; they shrink a lot when they are cooked, and their slender shape is beautiful to behold.)  Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the ginger, tamari, and miso paste.  Scatter over the green onions and soak up the nourishing flavours of this light but satisfying soup.