Sunday, March 6, 2011
Hearty Mushroom Soup
I understand that many people are on the fence about mushrooms. Ok, actually, many people can't stand mushrooms. I am not one of those people. I adore mushrooms. When prepared the right way, they are rich and satisfying. For vegetarians, mushrooms are great because they can provide a source of plant protein and can add a meaty quality to a host of dishes.
Research has been done on various types of mushrooms and it has shown that mushrooms have anti-cancer, immune boosting, and antioxidant properties. Mushrooms are also an excellent source of many minerals including selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. They are also an excellent source of B vitamins including vitamin B2, pantothenic acid and niacin. In addition, mushrooms are a very good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6 , and manganese. For more information about the research and health benefits of crimini and shiitake mushrooms, take a look here and here.
This particular soup really showcases various mushrooms' flavors. The recipe is loosely inspired by a creamy mushroom soup served at a local restaurant that I absolutely love. This one is far less creamy, making it a lot healthier, but still SO tasty. Like many of my recipes, this one is easily adaptable. This time, I used this awesome blackish purple rice called Forbidden Rice (cool name right?). Supposedly, this dark colored rice has some amazing health benefits. However, I could have easily used brown rice, wheat berries, wild rice, or barley as a grain. Use whatever variety of mushrooms are available (I just happened to use crimini, portobello, and oyster mushrooms this time). You can even add some baby spinach at the very end, after the heat has been shut off, to add some green color and extra nutrients. Have fun with it. If you're a mushroom lover like me, I'm sure you'll like this soup.
Hearty Mushroom Soup
1 pound of mixed mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp cloth and chopped into small pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
3 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbs fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (optional, but recommended)
1 cup cooked rice
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
2 tbs heavy cream (or half and half)
In a large pot, saute onion, celery, and garlic in butter and olive oil with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt until nicely softened, but not brown. Add the chopped sage and dill. Then, add the mushrooms and stir to coat them in the butter and oil. Add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. After about 2 minutes or so, add the wine to de-glaze the bottom of the pot, and continue to let the mushrooms cook. When the mushrooms are nicely cooked, add the water or vegetable broth and the cooked rice. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. You may need to add a bit more or less water or broth in case the soup is too thick or thin. It's really up to you how thick you want it. Taste the soup, add salt if you think it needs it, and then stir in the heavy cream. Ladle in to bowls and garnish with chopped fresh dill, if you like.