They say that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. I’d like to amend that and say that there are three: death, taxes and the common cold. Today the common cold is keeping me at home with some soup, a space heater, a box of kleenex, and my laptop instead of out at brunch catching up with a friend. I wanted to share this recipe with you as I know at some point you will be presented with a similar scenario.
I came up with this soup a few weeks ago when I decided to cook a dish with shittake mushrooms. You see, I read that shiitake mushrooms contain ingredients that help regulate the immune system, ward off bacterial and parasitic infections, improve circulation and increase stamina. Shiitake mushrooms also help lower cholesterol, have cancer fighting properties, and contribute to the overall health of the cardiovascular system. It is important to note that fresh shiitake maintain their nutrients even when cooked at high temperatures.
The leek, another important ingredients in this soup, is substituting for onion. What a fine substitute this is! Leeks have a slight sweet flavor when cooked and taste infinitely better than the onion (no offense onion, I still like you :) ).
Below is the recipe. Drop me a line if you have additional questions. Happy cooking and bon appetit!
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil)
1 leek, chopped
1/4 Lb shiitake mushrooms ( about 10-12 ), chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 potato, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley sprig)
Salt to taste
Fresh parsley to sprinkle
Start by chopping all the vegetables. Chop the leek. Both the white and green parts are chopped but toss about 1-2 inches of the green end as well as the tip of the white end. Add the chopped leak to a bowl filled with water to allow for proper cleaning. Use your hands to agitate the leek and dislodge the sand or dirt that may be clinging on to it. Allow the sand to sink to the bottom of the bowl then pick up the chopped leek and place on a paper towel to dry.
Rinse the shiitake mushrooms with water, remove the stem and chop each mushroom. I tossed the stems as they were too hard and dry.
Peel the carrot and potato. Chop.
In a pot heat the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the leek and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the chopped garlic and remaining vegetables.
Add the chicken stock, and bouquet garni. Traditionally thyme, bay leaf and parsley sprig are supposed to be tied together or gathered in a cheese cloth but I added them separately. I sprinkled some thyme and added 1 bay leaf and 1 parsley sprig.
Let cook on the stove top until all the vegetables are cooked, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Discard the bouquet garni or at the very least the parsley sprig and bay leaf. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Serves about 4.
Please note that all references to the health benefits of various ingredients are from “Prescription for Dietary Wellness” Second Edition by Phyllis A. Balch published in 2003.