Another warming, nourishing and tasty dish for these cooler days - mixed mushroom soup made with nutritious cauliflower and coconut cream as thickening agents. Mushroom is a grounding and nutrient-dense food, rich in fiber, B vitamins (good for energy and brain health), selenium (great antioxidant that protects our body cells from damage and strengthen immunity), potassium, copper and vitamin D. Yessssss, they are a natural vegan source of this very important vitamin (actually a hormone)! Mushrooms also have a umami quality (japanese for “pleasant savory taste,” that add a great depth of flavor to any vegetarian dish. Below is my recipe and I hope you enjoy it. It is a bit of a challenge for me to put together and share a recipe, because I don't usually measure all ingredients, I believe it is paramount to taste as you cook any meal, so you can engage your taste buds and adjust seasonings as you please. Adding the reiki or your homemade mushroom powder (instructions below) is optional, but adds a wonderful nutrition and flavor boost, an explosion of umami in your mouth :-) I recommend using organic and local produce whenever possible, and make sure not to soak your mushrooms when washing them. It is best to clean them using a dampen cloth or paper towel, gently rubbing off any dirt. Mushrooms are like sponges and can get soggy if wet. For this soup it may not make a big difference, but remember this next time you are sautéeing mushrooms and want that little bit of crispness in your dish. Enjoy and please share in the comments any modifications you've made to this recipe!
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
Preheat oven to 400°F. Roughly chop cauliflower into large florets and toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne and/or paprika, if using, to taste. Arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with a reusable silicone mat or unbleached sheet of parchment paper. Roast for 30 minutes and set aside to cool until ready to use.
Prepare your “mis-en-place” by cleaning and chopping your vegetables as well as measuring the other ingredients. When ready, warm a tablespoon of oil or ghee in a thick-bottomed pot, such as enameled cast iron on medium-high heat. Add garlic and/or shallots and sauté. Add thyme and your mixed mushrooms and allow them to cook down until they have released most of their liquid. Remove this mixture with the liquid from your pot for later use. Strain and save about a cup for garnishing the soup at the end.
Add another tablespoon of oil and the rest of your aromatics – leeks, onions, celery and cook until tender and translucent. Pour wine, if using (or other liquid) and scrape down the yummy browned and caramelized bits in the bottom of your pot (the fond). Add the roasted cauliflower, the reserved mushrooms with their liquid and any remaining liquids (stock, vegan milk or cream and water, if needed) to cover and simmer, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a standing blender), purée the soup until smooth and silky. Return the pot to the stove, adjust the seasoning and add chopped parsley, if using. When ready to serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of the reserved cup of sautéed mushroom. If using sage leaves, pan fry them in a little oil, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel to dry the excess oil, and garnish the soup with a couple of crispy leaves. Bom apetite!
Grind the dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms in a food processor for about 2-3 minutes, or until finely ground into powder. Strain this wonderful "umami powder" through a fine sieve into a bowl and then transfer the powder to a lided storage container, such as a spice jar. You will be left with a few bigger and harder "chunks" in your strainer which you should definitely save for future use. They are delicious re-hydrated and added to soups, stews, rice or pasta dishes. Store both jars in a cool dry place.