Holy Shiitake Stew!

My mom is serious about whole foods (the concept, not the store), and she doesn’t waste her time with single-serve portions. Ever. Even when she cooks just for herself, she prepares weeks of meals in advance. Bushels of gorgeous garlic bulbs fill every nook and cranny of her kitchen, and her fridge is always packed to overflowing with juicing carrots and leafy greens. (In fact, the first time Marty ever witnessed the splendour of her kitchen– with bags of organic grains peeking out from random cupboards and jars of decadent ingredients dotting every shelf (even local bay leaves!) — I suddenly made a lot more sense to him. The apple did not fall very far from the tree in this particular case, and it probably reassured Marty to realize that I am not the only person in the world who caresses bunches of kale in hushed reverence and admiration. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Garlic worthy of adoration

I had requested specific items in advance of my mom’s visit: lemons, ginger root, turmeric root, a bit of garlic, and rolled oats. (We drink the best tea every morning, with fresh lemon juice, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper in it, so we go through those ingredients like nobody’s business.) My mom did not disappoint. She brought us LEMONS! and GINGER! and TURMERIC! and 25 POUNDS OF ROLLED OATS!, along with enough garlic to keep the whole cast of Twilight far, far away forever and ever amen. Alleluia!

Gee, I hope you didn’t say ‘A’ lemon, because I brought LEMONS!!

What I wasn’t expecting was the mushrooms. Specifically, my mom showed up with what she termed a “dealer’s weight” of shiitakes. She wasn’t kidding. As I watched– breath held with cautious expectation– my mom unveiled a hefty-sized paper bag stuffed to the brim with mushrooms. Upon seeing these elaborate flowers of the forest ground, both of us emitted our signature, clan-patented squeals of delight! (Thankfully, Marty was on a bike ride at the time and didn’t have to deal with two nut cases culinary aficionados. We were free to be as enamoured with the fungi as we liked.)

Soft-core shiitake porn

Shiitake close-up. You’re welcome.

Not wanting to let even one of these beauties go to waste, Marty and I have enjoyed mushroom soup and shiitake-studded omelets for the past week. This evening, I also made us a variation of our regular mushroom soup and dubbed it Holy Shiitake Stew. Have some mushrooms lying around, shiitake or not? Here’s a beautiful, soul-warming, and vegan way to enjoy them. (Non-vegan boot-wearing is optional.) Bon appetit! 🙂

Holy Shiitake Stew

You Will Need:

– 1 Tbsp coconut or other cooking oil

– 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

– 3-4 carrots, sliced

– 3-4 celery stalks, sliced

– Fresh garlic to taste (I used 2 large cloves), thinly sliced

– 2 pounds of shiitake mushrooms, or mixed mushrooms to taste. Take 1.5 lbs of mushrooms and wash and coarsely chop them. The other half pound should be washed and cut into bite-sized chunks.

– 6-8 cups of water or vegetable broth

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 tsp each of thyme and curry powder

– dash of caraway seeds, if you’re feeling adventurous

How To Make It:

1. In a stock pot, saute onions in coconut oil over low heat. Cover pot and check on onions occasionally, stirring until they are soft and translucent (approx 5-7 minutes).

2. Add carrots and garlic to the pot, along with 1/2 cup of water or stock. Cover and let cook on low to medium heat for around 5 minutes, until carrots start to soften.

3. Add celery and another 1/2 cup of water or stock to pot. Cover and let cook on medium heat for around 5 minutes.

Just in case you need to see what the soup looks like at this point

4. Add 1.5 lbs of chopped mushrooms to pot, along with 4 cups of water or stock. Water will not cover the mushrooms at this point, but they will soften and reduce in size very quickly. Cover pot.


5. Cook mushrooms with the rest of the vegetables until everything is tender, stirring as needed. Add rest of water or stock, salt, pepper, curry powder, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and then simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Soup after 30 minutes of simmering, pre-blending

6. Meanwhile, saute remaining 1/2 pound of mushrooms in a pan with a small amount of water (and caraway seeds if you so desire) until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

7. After soup has simmered for 30 minutes, remove from heat and blend in the stock pot until smooth using a hand blender.

8. Add sauteed mushrooms to smooth soup mixture to give it some texture. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve hot over a whole grain or with fresh garlic toast. Holy shiitake, it’s delicious! 🙂

33 responses

    • Sure thing! I usually peel and chop about an inch/1.5″ of ginger root and put the chunks in the bottom of my teacup, along with maybe 5 slivered coins of turmeric root. I bring water ALMOST to a boil and pour it over the ginger and turmeric, letting it sit for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, I squeeze a half lemon (or full lemon) to get approx 1 oz of lemon juice. (Every lemon is different, so I use either half or a full lemon every day.) Pour the lemon juice into your teacup and then stir in a ribbon of cayenne pepper. You don’t need a whole lot of cayenne– just enough to give it that extra bite. If you like sweeter tea, you can add a bit of honey.

      I find that I can use the ginger and turmeric root twice before composting. (When you finish your tea in the morning, just leave the cup with the roots in the fridge until the next day.) The tea should be consumed on an empty stomach and preferably 30 minutes before eating anything else. It wakes up your liver and immune system and is literally my favourite part of every day. I’m addicted to this tea, in a good way. 🙂

    • I’m like a little kid at Christmas when my mom comes over. We never know what ingredients are coming our way, but it’s always a treat! I’ll see if she wants to head on down to Kentucky… 🙂

  1. I take it your mum arrived in a refrigerated three-ton truck with that much food.
    And I’m thinkin’ those boots must be all you hoped for. The calf-huggers have got to give you that Wonder-Woman feel.

    • My mom was packed in dry ice and shipped via semi-truck to our cabin, yes. She likes to travel in style! 🙂

      The calf-hugging properties of the boots were so intense at first that I needed to get them stretched a wee… There’s a fine line between feeling like Wonder Woman and not having any circulation in your legs.

  2. I just finished eating–eggplants with mushrooms nonetheless–and am now deeply desiring Holy Shiitake Stew. It looks so good. Am also grinning about this line : I am not the only person in the world who caresses bunches of kale in hushed reverence and admiration. Grinning while I drink lemon-ginger tea, freshly brewed, although sadly not the homemade variety.

    • Depending on your comfort level with public displays of produce affection, I am either the *best* or the *absolute worst* person to take along to Farmers’ Markets. 😉 Yes, I am one of THOSE people– up close and personal with fresh fruits and vegetables, much to the chagrin/disgust/embarrassment of onlookers.

  3. Whoa, I love shiitakes! And most mushrooms… I wonder if this soup would be as good if I didn’t blend it? I like soups with lots of bits and pieces in it. Yum yum. Thanks for the recipe!

    • I can confirm it would be just as good! I would add less water, just so it isn’t too runny. The other option would be to take out 1/2 of the cooked veggies, blend them and add them back to the rest of the soup. That way, you get both a thicker base and lots of chunks! 🙂 Mmm… we’re just about to eat some stew right now. It’s delicious.

  4. My biggest reaction was more “Holy SH*T that’s a lot of lemons!!!” and those must have been heavy to carry round. You guys should just get a warehouse membership from a citrus farmer.

    • When they’re all in the fridge at once, YES, it’s a lot of lemons! But Marty and I use 1-2 lemons every day, so within a week or two, they’re all gone again. I think I should move to California or Florida. The citrus industry needs me! 🙂

    • Aw, I’ll tell her you said so! My mom’s pretty awesome, and the stew/tea recipes are both worth checking out. 🙂

      Here’s a little anecdote to give you a better idea of how great my mom is: One night when we were young, the phone rang at our house and my mom answered it with much enthusiasm. She spent thirty minutes chatting excitedly and ended the call by saying “Don’t be surprised if you find a little something under your Christmas tree this year!” We wanted to know who she had been talking to. Turns out it was a wrong number. 🙂

  5. Man, those red boots are awesome. Ha! Leave it to me to comment on that rather than the main content of the post.
    How long will it takes you guys to go through all those lemons?!

    • Just you wait until I take a picture of those boots with the accompanying bling– they’re GREAT!! (I just have to get over this bronchitis, style my hair, and get my eyebrows threaded. A photo of them now– with me in the pic AT ALL– would not do justice to the boots. They deserve so much better.)

      Hmm, we go through 1-2 lemons every day, and I think there are close to 10lbs of lemons there, so maybe a month or just under before we need to go lemon shopping again? All I know is that Marty, my mom, and I single-handedly keep the citrus industry afloat. 🙂

  6. You got your BOOTS!!!! WHOOO HOOO!!! Sexy! I have to say I love your mom. She sounds a lot like mine when I lived closer. Always tons of food, home made for our eating pleasure. mmmMmmm MMm. Although I dont know if my mom would buy the grocery store out of all their lemon stock…

  7. MoM’s rock when we are sick. Glad she was there to help. I do hope you are feeling better and Marty gets some sleep.
    Love the images of the lemons, and here I thought they only go into bottles of beer. Hugs form the other coast.

    • You’d be surprised how many uses there are for lemons! Apparently you can even use the rinds to clean your stove and such after you have squeezed them, but I’m not THAT devoted to lemons. 🙂 I’m gradually getting better and better, but I can’t believe this cough is still hanging around…

  8. This post is making me very hungry. You are so lucky to have a mom that enjoys really healthy good food! My husband loves shiitake mushrooms so I’ll have to save your recipe. I laughed at your ‘soft core shiitake porn’ comment, too funny.

    • Yes, our version of the mother-daughter pissing contest is “who’s fridge contains more organic ingredients” and “who makes the most meals from scratch”. (For the record: she wins.) As far as the recipe goes, 2lbs is a lot of anything, so if you don’t have 2lbs of shiitakes, you can use other (brown, button, etc.) mushrooms, too. I also think the soup can sustain itself on less than 2lbs of ANY mushrooms.

    • I never liked mushrooms until Marty’s parents got me hooked. They go out picking fresh forest mushrooms every autumn (luckily knowing the difference between edible fungi and mushrooms that will make you die). Store-bought mushrooms aren’t quite the same, but now that I’ve developed the taste for fungi, pretty much anything goes. 🙂

  9. I’m not sure which to drool over more… the lemons or the shittakes. (I like the awesome boots, too.) I have a much smaller bunch of shittakes which I’m going to be using in a shiitake and carrot soup tonight. This stew sounds so good, though, that I might change my mind and make this instead.

    • Everything is drool-worthy! I think the carrot and shiitake soup sounds great, too– anything with shiitakes in it is destined to be great, no? I’m just about to make us a carrot ginger soup in the hopes of loosening up some of my lingering congestion. I’m so ready to be healthy again…

  10. Dear Lord! The Devil made Holy Shitake soup tonight. If word of this stuff gets out, I suspect it wiill become illegal in at least three states. It’s THAT good.

    You’re awesome. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Whew! Thank goodness I live in Canada, where I can escape the vegan stew police and cook in peace! 🙂

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it. One of my lesser-known talents is creating pretty mean soup recipes, and it always warms my heart when other people try the recipes and like them! You’ve officially made my evening. 🙂

  11. I like using lemons to get the stink out of cutting boards. Of course, yours probably never stink because all you do is cut lemons on them :).


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