This deeply savory and satisfying wild mushroom miso soup will warm your soul and your tummy, and nourish you inside and out.
First things first: this post title, and that ubiquitous, food-blogging-annoying word, detox. I don’t really believe that one recipe or one food will purify your innards. And I don’t believe that this soup (or any soup) can undo a holiday’s worth — much less a year’s or a lifetime’s worth — of questionable eating.
No miracles cures will be found here, friends. Instead, I’m referring to detoxing your choices. Healthy eating isn’t about one meal, or ten meals. It’s about establishing a long-term pattern of choosing health-supporting foods that fuel and nourish your body, while keeping your tummy happy. (Practice the former while respecting the latter, because a happy tummy means a happy you.)
And it’s hard, my food-lovin’ peeps. It’s oh-so-hard. Because for every healthy mushroom miso soup you make, there’s a goopy, cheesy, white-flour-carb-loaded bowl of something just waiting to tempt you back to the Dark Side.
That’s why it’s so important, as we all move through our renewed goals to eat healthier in the New Year (once again, lol), to remember the happy tummy: Food has to taste good. It just does. Because the temptation of fat, salt, and sugar is just too great, and too “everywhere” to fool ourselves into thinking that we can be our best, joyful, goal-crushing selves on celery and kale alone.
So make sure your detox resolutions include both healthy and delicious choices.
Although a little bit easier said than done, a great way to start is by resetting your taste buds. When you stop eating junk food, you crave it less and less. Loosely put, we crave whatever delicious thing we eat regularly, healthy or not.
Have you ever noticed that by December, you just can’t get enough of cookies and charcuterie and dips and carby pastas loaded with cheese? The human body’s craving triggers are complex, for sure — some of it is simply natural instinct to intake calories and fat as cold weather sets in — but another factor is that we’re suddenly bombarded with party foods that are everywhere, all the time, with the subtle social pressure to eat, drink, and be merry or else be labeled a major party pooper.
But, we don’t have to remain stuck in that cycle. Just like we slide into holiday eating, we can slide right back out. Remember, delicious is key.
To start the year off right, let’s dig into this mushroom lover’s mushroom miso soup. Miso is my one of my secrets to really tasty soup, without coating a soup in salt. Loaded with healthy fermented goodness, I can enjoy a simple broth with nothing but miso. But when you add an earthy mix of mushrooms and leeks, soup is elevated into something deeply savory and warmly satisfying.
I love the organic miso produced by South River Miso Co. in Massachusetts. They make a to-live-for Dandelion Leek miso that I could add to every soup I ever make, now and forever, and be happy has as a clam. Cincinnati peeps, Jungle Jim’s carries another favorite South River vegan miso, Sweet White, right here in our fair city. If you’ve never cooked with miso before, I can heartily recommend starting with the Sweet White.
Another secret to this richly flavorful soup are dried porcini mushrooms and the broth they make when reconstituted. Fresh porcini mushrooms are wildly expensive (and never, ever available here locally), so dried are a perfectly acceptable substitute. It’s hard not to resort to oenophilic hyperbole when describing their flavor: earthy, woodsy, full-bodied, nutty, salty, and ever-so-slightly sweet. If “umami” was forced to have a distinct flavor, I would vote for the porcini mushroom.
Welcome, New Year, and welcome new year of soups! I hope you’re all staying warm (brrrr, U.S.!) — if there was ever a time to enjoy a deep bowl of healthy, delicious soup, held in your hands for extra warmth, this week is it!
- 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms (recommend shiitake and porcini mix)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as sunflower)
- 8 ounces fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced
- 4 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms, sliced
- 2 ounces fresh enoki or beech mushrooms (optional)
- 1 leek, light green and white parts, sliced
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sweet white miso
- 1 baby bok choy, sliced
- 1 scallion, sliced, for garnish (optional)
- kosher salt
In a small pot, bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat, and add the dried mushrooms. Let soak for 30 minutes.
In a 4-5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot (with a lid), heat the oil over medium, until shimmering. Add the fresh mushrooms and leeks, give a quick stir, and cover, cooking until the mushrooms have softened and are mostly browned (about 10 minutes).
Scootch the mushroom mixture to one side, and add a splash of vegetable broth to the cleared space. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir until fragrant (just 30 seconds or so). Add the remaining broth, plus the soy sauce, rice vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Increase heat and bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
The dried mushrooms should be reconstituted at this point. Chop any large pieces and add all to the soup, including the mushroom liquid.
Spoon the miso into a small mixing bowl and add about one cup of the soup broth. Whisk until smooth, then mix into the soup. Add the baby bok choy. Taste the soup, and add salt to taste. Serve garnished with scallions, sprouts, or extra enoki mushrooms.
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