asian mushroom soup!

Every weekend, I visit a local organic farm and stock up on fabulous! gorgeous! delicious! produce for the week. There is usually a wonderful supply of various mushrooms at the farm and I always get some, as mushrooms are a fantastic healthy-comfort food, so I was already focused on bringing a good amount home. It was also cold and rainy, so I began craving homemade soup. What’s better than homemade mushroom soup? Homemade Asian Mushroom Soup!

The base of this soup is homemade vegetable stock, which is so fragrant and has a depth of flavor unparalleled by any store bought stock – there is simply no comparison. Knowing I already had a lot of veggies at home in the fridge I could use for the stock, while at the farm, I focused mainly on soup ingredients. My basket was filled with mushrooms, bok choy, ginger, garlic, red jalepeno, onions, and more. Almost every ingredient in the soup was from the organic farm, which makes me really happy!

This dish is a very healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free meal. It is hearty and soul-warming to make (and eat).

Serves 6

Ingredients (95% organic)

(For vegetable stock)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, rough chopped

2 cups cabbage, rough chopped

2 carrots, peeled and rough chopped

1 head of garlic, sliced in half

1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems only (caps set aside)

1/2 lb. baby portobello mushrooms, stems plus 3 to 4 caps, halved (remaining caps set aside)

handful fresh cilantro

handful fresh basil

10 to 12 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3 pieces star anise

1 tbsp. fennel seed

freshly cracked pepper to taste

4 quarts filtered water

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(For soup)

2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

shiitake mushroom caps, sliced

baby portobello mushroom caps, sliced

1 large red jalepeno pepper, sliced

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 lime, juiced

2 cups bok choy, rough chopped

6 oz. brown rice vermicelli

freshly cracked pepper to taste

Jammed to while cooking: My Fair Lady Soundtrack

Directions

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To make the vegetable stock, place a large stockpot on stove over medium-high heat while roughly chopping onion with skin on, cabbage, and carrots. Slice head of garlic in half with skin on. Wash and pat mushrooms dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towel and remove stems, setting caps aside in a bowl.

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Head of garlic sliced in half. This is also a great technique when roasting chicken – just place a halved head of garlic inside the chicken.

Place olive oil into hot pot then add onion, garlic, carrots, mushroom stems, and cabbage, stirring slightly. Let cook for one minute then add cilantro, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, star anise, bay leaf, and pepper. Continuing cooking for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After veggies in pot have cooked down a bit, give one more stir,  paying attention to scrape bottom of pot before adding filtered water. Bring to a boil then simmer for up to two hours, or until stock is reduced by half.

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This stock is so fragrant – your kitchen will smell divine!

Once the stock has been reduced, you’ll want to strain it through a fine mesh sieve, making sure to use the back of a spoon against the sieve to push all the liquid out of the veggies. I like for the strained stock to go into a large bowl, so the stockpot is accessible when I’m ready to start making the soup. This process is slightly time consuming, but important, so do not rush, as you will end up with much less stock than deserved. Also, it’s a good arm workout, so just focus on that!

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At this point, you have homemade vegetable stock. This Asian Mushroom Soup recipe calls for all of the vegetable stock as a soup base, but feel free to use the vegetable stock in anyway you would like. Stock can be portioned out and frozen for up to 3 months, so it’s a good idea to make extra, that way you are prepared when it suddenly starts to rain and you’re craving homemade soup – just throw whatever veggies you have in the fridge into the stock, season and you are good to go. Once you go homemade stock, you will never go back!

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Shiitake and Baby Portobello mushroom caps.

Wipe out any chunks or charred bits of veggies from the stockpot with a slightly oiled paper towel, but there is no need to have a perfectly clean pot! Over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil, garlic, and ginger slices and sautee for a quick minute. Add mushrooms and one more tbsp. toasted sesame oil and sautee for a few minutes until mostly soft.

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Beautiful bok choy from a local organic farm really makes a girl’s heart sing.

Add vegetable stock, jalepeno, green onion, pepper, and lime juice, stirring well. Add soy sauce and fish sauce in 1/8 cup increments, tasting as you go, so the flavor is to your liking. Cooking soup on a simmer for about 15 minutes before adding bok choy then cook for another 5 minutes. While bok choy is in the pot, place brown rice vermicelli into a large bowl of room temperature water for a minute or so to soften before cooking. At this time, slice lime wedges and gather fresh cilantro leaves for a garnish when plating. Add the noodles to the pot just before you are ready to plate, as they only take 2 to 3 minutes to cook.

 

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Brown rice vermicelli can be found in the ethnic food aisle at most grocery stores or certainly any Asian supermarket or health food store.

When plating, I try to make a lil nest of vermicelli in the center of a large bowl then pour the broth around the edges making sure to include lots of mushrooms and bok choy!

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If I have guests, I like to serve this with a communal garnish plate of lime wedges and fresh cilantro that everyone can take from. Provide a spoon and set of chopsticks for each guest and enjoy! Asian Mushroom Soup is delicious, healthy, and clearly made with love.

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