Saturday, September 21, 2013

Magic Mushroom Immunity Soup (vegan, gluten-free)

I don't even like mushrooms. Well, I didn't until I learned about the amazing medicinal properties of mushrooms. They fight cancer! They are antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and they lower cholesterol. Anyone who has used them recreationally knows that mushrooms have powerful bioactive effects, but those are not limited to the psychedelic ones. Paul Stamets, a mushroom expert, calls them a "functional food." I love that term. The Huffington Post ran an interesting article about the properties of different medicinal mushrooms. Mushrooms as medicine is well documented since ancient times.

This is not a beautiful soup, nor is it quick. But it is robust, nutritious, medicinal, and delicious. It doesn't take long to cook, but there is quite a lot of chopping involved. You could throw it all in the food processor to save time, but I find the chopping meditative. Especially on a rainy day like today. I started making this immunity soup last winter, and I have noticed many fewer colds, sniffles, flus, scratchy throats, and cold sores blowing through our household. Now, I crave it a couple of times a month.

Even if you don't like mushrooms either, don't be afraid to give this soup a try. It's medicine! I find if I chop the mushrooms finely enough, the texture doesn't bother me, and the flavor is pleasant. You can always add plenty of ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and miso to cover the mushroom flavor if you like. 

Magic Mushroom Immunity Soup
makes 4-6 servings 

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion
8 ounces medicinal mushrooms (I like shitakes and forest nameko)
a knob of fresh ginger, grated (at least 2-3 tablespoons)
1-2 (or more) hot peppers, minced, plus more for garnish if desired
4 (or more) garlic cloves, minced
1 daikon radish, sliced thin
1 bunch kale, or sea vegetables, or other hearty green
2 cups veggie broth, preferably homemade
fresh (unpasteurized) miso paste
fresh herbs
fresh lemon juice
rice noodles or steamed rice

Heat the coconut oil in a soup pot. Put a separate kettle of water on to boil. To the coconut oil, add the onion and allow to soften while you chop the mushrooms. Remove the woody stems from the mushrooms and put the stems in a mug or Pyrex measuring cup (affiliate link); cover with 2 cups hot water and allow to steep. (This is your mushroom "broth" and separate from the veggie broth. You will add both later.)

Add the chopped mushrooms to the onions and saute gently while you chop and add the ginger, garlic, hot peppers, and daikon radish. 

When everything has softened, after 10-15 minutes or so, strain the mushroom stems from the broth and add the liquid to the pot, along with 2 cups of veggie broth and 2 cups of water. Add the kale. Bring to a simmer and cook until the greens are tender, 20 minutes.

(During this time, make the steamed rice or cook the rice noodles to the package directions in a separate pot.)

When you are ready to serve, place 1 tablespoon miso paste into the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the soup over top, stir to combine. Then add the steamed rice or rice noodles. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh herbs, sliced hot peppers, and hot sauce.

I wish you good health!
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