10 February 2012

Seasonal Recipe: Miso Mushroom Soup

Recipe, story and photo by Chef Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans.  At the Winter Market, follow the mouthwatering aromas to the Springwater Farm booth, where you will find Kathryn doing delicious things with Springwater’s  farmed and foraged offerings. You can read about her adventures in local, seasonal eating and cooking at her blog, The Farmer’s Feast.

Mmmmushroom miso

This soup may just be the perfect antidote to winter’s chill.  It’s very soothing, nutritious, and easily digestible.  In fact, I once received the best food compliment I’ve ever been offered about this soup.  A market shopper who was a regular customer at Springwater Farm’s “Farmstand of the Future” (combination farmstand and ready-to-eat venue) last year would purchase miso mushroom soup weekly to eat for lunch, and take home an additional quart.

I think this soup is saving my life,” she told me.  She was undergoing chemotherapy treatments and said that my soup was not only the sole food that settled her stomach, but that she could feel it nourishing and restoring her body.

Shiitake are one of the most easily digestible mushrooms, so if you’d like, make the soup with just those.  Nameko is the mushroom traditionally used for miso soup in Japan – in fact, they are Japan’s second most popular mushroom (preceded by shiitake).  This soup is wonderful with some or all nameko in place of the shiitake and maitake that I’ve used in the recipe below.

In addition to the immune system-boosting properties of the mushrooms, the soup boasts a good amount of garlic (anti-microbial, heart-beneficial, cancer-fighting superfood), miso (an enzyme-rich, detoxifying food that is a complete protein), olive oil (rich in oleic acid), and nori seaweed (rich in protein, iron, and iodine).

And it tastes really good!

Miso Mushroom Soup

makes about 3 quarts

1/4 cup mild olive oil
1/2 pound fresh maitake mushrooms, “petals removed”, or sliced
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. salt (preferably Springwater Farm truffle salt)
2 qt. mushroom, vegetable, or chicken broth
1 cup sliced green onion (the tops of spring onions work splendidly, or you can use scallions or even chives)
1/2 pound silken or soft tofu, diced (I use locally-made organic OTA tofu)
a large pinch of dried nori (dried seaweed), optional
miso paste, to taste (I prefer mellow red miso).

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the maitake mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have attained a golden brown color (about 8 minutes).  Add the Shiitake mushrooms and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Season the mushrooms with salt.  Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute.  Stir in the chopped green onion.  Add the broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the tofu.

The amount of miso paste you add to the soup will depend on your taste for miso.  You can always adjust with more miso.  Place an amount of miso in a bowl.  Whisk in soup broth until the miso is dissolved, then add the miso back to the pot.  Do not boil.  Adjust with salt, if needed, and serve hot.