Ancient Grains & Wild Mushroom Soup

Ancient Grains & Mushroom Soup 1

It happens every year: as the air chills in the Midwest, my thoughts and cravings turn to comfort foods. Carbs, carbs, carbs. I’m aided and abetted by the holiday season, when so many amazing once-a-year treats and sweets show up everywhere I turn.

But by January, I’m done. Done. Completely sugared out and craving vegetables like crazy. The bummer is that January is not the best time to be craving tomato and mozzarella salads.

This year, I’m going to head off the carb craze by including healthy grains in my diet throughout November and December (and of course, beyond).

Enter ancient grains. A fancy term for seeds and grains that have been around for centuries and largely unchanged by modern cultivation techniques or genetic modifications, ancient grains are high in protein and fiber, and many are suitable for folks with gluten intolerances, meaning breads and pastas are back on the menu for just about everyone.

I’m fortunate in that my local Kroger carries bulk rices, beans and grains (imitating, I suspect, Whole Foods, with their Wall of Bulk), so millet and quinoa and spelt are readily available. (They only thing they’re missing is farro — favorite. grain. ever. — but the small grocery around the corner from my house carries that.)

What’s more, these grains and seeds have amazing flavors, far beyond your standard starchy white rice. Take millet, for example. When toasted, millet has a wonderful honey-nut flavor, and can easily stand in for rice in a dish. I add millet to many things, including bread and oatmeal. And soups.

Ancient Grains & Mushroom Soup 2

Millet is actually a seed — small, round and light yellow — and I suspect you’ve seen it many times before. The next time you’re at the store, examine the multi-grain breads to spot the little seeds, often on the crust.

The other photo above shows some carrots from my fall crop. I still can’t believe I was so organized this summer as to have remembered to plant another carrot garden back in August. As long as I can get them out of the frozen ground, I should have carrots into January, along with leeks and celery (which are in a pot that I’ll move indoors in a week or two).

Ancient Grains & Mushroom Soup 3

Along with healthy grains, this soup features my favorite mushrooms: cremini, shiitake, and dried matsutakes and porcinis (matsutakes can be hard to find, so I list only porcinis in the recipe below). Oh, porcini. If I were a songwritin’ kind of girl, I’d write an entire ode to your earthy richness.

For an extra hearty soup, line your bowl with crispy croutons and ladle the soup on top.

Ancient Grains & Wild Mushroom Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 generous servings

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water

2 teaspoons coconut or canola oil
1/2 cup millet
1/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water

1 medium onion diced
1 medium carrot diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped (cremini, portabella, shiitakes, etc.)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon light miso (optional, but tasty)
2 teaspoons worchestershire sauce (or vegetarian substitute)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons mascarpone or greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup freshly grated parmesano reggiano cheese, for garnish

Rehydrate dried mushrooms by pouring one cup very hot water over them and allow to soak for 20-30 minutes

Heat coconut oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the millet and quinoa and allow to toast for several minutes. Add water and turn heat to high. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, then begin checking. When water is completely absorbed, remove from heat, fluff the grains and set aside.

In a 5 quart stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and saute until soft about 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove porcini mushroms from soaking water (reserve soaking water), rinse, pat dry and chop.

Add all mushrooms to onion mixture, plus a bit of the reserved mushroom stock. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mushrooms have released their liquids, about 10 minutes.

Return heat to medium, and stir in tomato paste, smoked paprika, miso and worcestershire sauce. Add vegetable stock, and allow to come to a good simmer.

Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. You’ll want the soup properly seasoned before adding the grains.

Optional: for a thicker soup, run an immersion blender briefly through the soup, leaving some mushroom pieces for a chunky texture.

Add the grains to the soup and turn heat to low.

Place mascarpone in a small bowl. Add a ladle of the hot soup and mix well — use a whisk if necessary — until smooth. Add to soup. Stir in parsley. Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

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  1. What a great sounding soup! I’m so glad you thoroughly explained how to prepare the grains. I’ve been wanting to experiment with them but wasn’t interested when they were presented as part of a vegetarian diet. This is very tempting. Conveniently, I have a bag of wild mushrooms just waiting to be put into service, also have a jar of porcini. Will have to pop over to Whole Foods for the grains. Rain is predicted for the weekend, do this will be perfect! Two things, could olive oil or grape seed oil be used? And is there a brand of miso you prefer. I’ve never tried it and according to Wikipedia, it’s flavor can vary quite a bit.
    Love porcini too, I add them to meatloaf when I occasionally make it. Really adds depth. Yum! Thanks so much Karen!

    • SoupAddict says:

      You can definitely use any oil you want. I just dig the flavor of coconut oil (although really, in this usage, it doesn’t add much). I have a white miso I like – my selection at the grocery isn’t that great, so it’s pretty much whatever they have. And flavors do vary a lot – it’s worth experimenting if you have access to the various types!

  2. This wild mushroom soup sounds fantastic!

  3. Love wild mushrooms (and gathering them while in Europe). This looks warming and filling (I’m totally with you on carbs this time of year. I want bread!).

    Have you seen the parsnip & wild mushroom soup recipe in this week’s NY Times? It looks fantastic, think you’d like it too.

  4. I love millet. All these grains actually – and very smart to head off the bad carb orgy. I need to take this advice!!! The soup looks so yummy.

  5. I cannot tell you how amazing this soup was, even without the miso (just didn’t have any white, only dark)! We used 3/4 lb of brown baby creminis and then a 3/4 lb assortment of chanterelles, cauliflower mushrooms and shitakes. You are right that the addition of porcinis is what takes this over the top! I let the mushrooms brown in the pan dry–they released enough liquid on their own and then I just added all the broth at once in the next step. We seriously could NOT stop mmmm-ing while we ate this!

  6. I made this the other night, and it was a huge hit! Even my brother and sister liked it, who are picky eaters. Thanks for the new favorite soup recipe!

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