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…)
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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! 🙂