There is a lot to love about winter. I can get away without wearing a bra (courtesy-big, comfortable, pink baggy sweater). I can laze around in bed on the weekends if there’s snow outside. I can eat like a guinea pig (you’d be surprised at the size of their appetite). And I can make fun, delicious soups every week of the day without getting tired of them. And if I’m smart, I’ll make enough to freeze some for the afore-mentioned lazy weekends (or busy weeknights if you’re a poor soul stuck in a bloodsucking, cutthroat, capitalist 9 to 5 job.)
Back in the day — like a year ago– my idea of a delicious, hearty soup was chicken noodle with lots of veggies. However, since I have become vegetarian, I’ve had to find other avenues to satisfy my meaty cravings. And through all my experiments and gastronomic adventures, I have found my one true love.
So good. So fantastic. (See what I did there? :D)
Anyhow, my recipe started out with three of my favorite mushrooms in dried form. And I made enough for three people.
- Dried Chanterelle or Chicken of the Woods- 50 grams
- Dried Porcini- 100 grams
- Dried Morel- 30 grams
I bought these from Wegmans but they are available in most big grocery stores. If you find Chanterelles and Morels too pricey, feel free to replace them with fresh or dried Maitake (Hen of the woods) and dried Wood Ears or dried Lobster Mushroom respectively.
You will also need a handful of finely chopped regular button mushrooms. These are not a part of the soup base but they add flavor and texture. You can also use Baby Bellas instead of these.
The flavor of mushrooms is delicate and strong at the same time. Often, they would adopt the flavor of whatever sauce they are being cooked in but when cooked simply by themselves, they are capable enough to be the stars of the table.
The other things you will need are:
- Vegetable Margarine- half a stick
- Olive oil- 1 teaspoon
- Canola Oil- 1 teaspoon
- Garlic- 6 cloves- Finely Chopped
- Sprouted Tofu- 50 grams- Sliced into small, thin cubes
- Fresh Baby Kale- 3-4 leaves
- Fresh Rosemary- 2 sprigs
- Carrot- 1, thin- cut into small, round pieces
- Scallion- 1- Finely Chopped (The whole thing)
- Brown sugar- 1/4 teaspoon
- Hungarian Paprika (Half Sharp)- 1 teaspoon
- Warm Water- 3 cups
- Vegetable Stock- 1 cup
- Cashew Nuts- Puréed- 1/3 cup
- Mini Macaroni- cooked al-dente- 1/2 cup
- Shredded Almond Cheese- 1/2 cup
- Salt and Pepper- To Taste
- Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for 30-45 minutes to reconstitute. When the mushrooms look plump and full, strain the water into a clean dish. You can set the mushrooms aside and store them in the fridge for later or you fry them with some margarine and garlic for a side dish. However, we are only interested in the strained water for this soup recipe.
- In a deep (deep enough to cook the soup in), heavy bottomed pot, add the margarine, oil, brown sugar, and garlic. Fry on a low-medium flame till the garlic starts browning. Make sure to only toast the garlic. No burning! Add the rosemary and fry for another thirty seconds.
- Now add the paprika, the mushroom water and the vegetable stock and set the flame to as low as you can and cover the pan. Let it cook for 15 minutes
- In a separate frying pan, heat the canola oil. Place the tofu on the floor of the pan, making sure that no pieces are piled atop each other. Fry on a medium-high flame for three-four minutes or till the bottoms of the tofu pieces are done.
- Flip the tofu over and fry for another 2-3 minutes. If required, cover the pan for a little over a minute to speed up the frying process.
- Once the tofu is golden-brown on two sides, add the scallions and carrot and let them cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the button mushroom and fry with constant, gentle stirring till the mushroom gets brown and crisp.
- Add the baby kale and let cook for another minute or so.
- Now, uncover the soup pot and add this mixture to it. Also, add the cashew purée and the almond cheese. Stir to mix everything well. Increase the flame under the pot to medium-high and let the soup boil for 7-10 minutes.
- Add the salt and pepper and the pasta to the soup and continue boiling for another minute.
- Serve immediately.
And that’s that. Let me know how the recipe turned out for you and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have!