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Friday, August 05, 2005

Mushroom, Asparagus + Wild Rice Soup

If you're like me, you love a hearty soup that can be served pretty much any time of year. This delicious vegetarian offering tastes as good cold in the summer as it does warm in the winter. Note that wild rice, which is actually a grass, takes a very long time to cook. You should either pre-cook as per the package's instructions, or use another healthy grain such as brown rice.

  • Water - 4 cups, cold
  • +Water or stock - 4 cups. If you are using water, add 3 bouillon cubes (chicken or vegetable; beef is too strong for this soup).
  • Sesame oil - 2-3 tbsps
  • Wild rice - pre-cooked, if necessary, to produce 1 1/2 cups. Wild rice is usually available in health food stores, if you cannot find it at your grocer. Or replace with brown rice.
  • Barley - 1/2 cup [optional]
  • Shiitake mushrooms - 7 caps, soaked in 4 cups of boiling water for about 1/2 hr. Reserve the liquid. Any kind of woodsy/wild mushroom will work, but shiitakes are reputed by Asian cultures to have medicinal qualities. If you prefer, used canned shiitakes. (Both are available in the international section of your grocer, or in Asian groceries. If you cannot find shiitakes, ask for "chinese mushrooms" at non-Japanese groceries. Or use some other "wild" mushroom.) Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
  • Wood ear/black fungus mushrooms [optional: available in Asian markets]. Soak in hot water for a 1/2 hour, then julienne.
  • Carrots - 1/4 cup julienned (thin strips of about 1-2 inches).
  • Mushrooms - 4-6 regular or porcini, cleaned and thickly sliced. (Use canned, sliced if you prefer.)
  • Asparagus - 8-12 spears. If you can get fresh, locally grown asparagus instead of frozen, do it. You'll taste the difference. Use "baby" asparagus if possible (or select the thinnest spears you can find). Trim off the bottom inch of each spear and peel a bit of the next inch. cut the spears into 1.5-2 inch pieces. Blanch them in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes maximum, then shock in a bowl of iced water and remove immediately after 10 seconds. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Green onions (aka spring onions) - 4-6 stalks, cut on a bias (diagonal) into 0.5-1 inch pieces.
  • Rice vinegar - 1/4 cup. If you cannot find this in the international section of your grocer, or at an Asian market, use 1 tbsp of white cooking vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Assuming that you have prepared the ingredients as instructed above, you are ready to make the soup.
  • Strain the reserved mushroom liquid into a large cookpot and add 4 cups of cold water. Set stove to high heat.
  • Add the sesame oil and bouillon cubes (if using), soaked shiitakes and wood ear, pre-cooked wild rice, and barley (if using).
  • When the soup is boiling, reduce heat to med high. Add carrots and sliced mushroms, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add asparagus and green onions and simmer for 1-2 minutes max.
  • Turn off the heat and add the rice vinegar. Stir and taste. Add more vinegar if it suits you, and salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve hot or cold with a multigrain sandwich. Garnish with parsley/cilantro and, if desired, diced, cooked spicy sausage.

(c) Copyright 2005, Raj Kumar Dash,

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  • I'm blogslinger
  • From Canada
  • Writer, author, former magazine editor and publisher, amateur photog, amateur composer, online writer/ blogger, online publisher, freelancer

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