Choosing a favorite food is a difficult challenge for this culinary enthusiast. However, if I really did have to pick just one food I couldn’t do without, considering that just the other day I dined at an exquisite Italian bistro and all three of the dishes I ordered contained mushrooms, well, I suppose mushrooms, of any variety, must be my favorite food. No matter the type or style of cuisine, mushrooms are frequently the vital feature of my favorite fare.
It’s also a day of the week that many observe as meatless Monday and thus a timely occasion to showcase a recent mushroom laden creation. Now, as a vegetarian for over 20 years, everyday is meatless Monday and oftentimes it’s vegan day. But if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, why not explore nourishing and exciting meat-free meals throughout the week? You will forget what you thought you would be missing.
Think of this creamy dish as a vegan alternative to chicken noodle soup. Here chicken stays on the farm and succulent and earthy mushrooms are the meaty component. Throw in some fresh bean sprouts and some rice noodles and you have a silky, comforting bowl of soup to be enjoyed anytime of year. Just the thing for a mushroom aficionado such as myself.
Creamy Thai Coconut Mushroom Soup
- 1/2 oz (14 g) dried mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, sliced into small rounds
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger or galangal, minced or grated
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and cut into strips
- 3 cups fresh mixed mushrooms (I used enoki, button and oyster), sliced
- few generous handfuls of bean sprouts
- 3 1/2 cups (2 14 oz or 400 ml cans) coconut milk
- 2 to 3 cups [highlight]vegetable stock [/highlight]or water
- 1 tablespoon tamari (soy) sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sweetener (optional)
- a few pinches of paprika
- 2 tablespoons [highlight]Thai red curry paste[/highlight], or to taste
- handful of kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups uncooked rice noodles
- juice from two limes (3 tablespoons)
- generous handful of fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped for garnish
Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop.
Heat the oil over medium-heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. When hot, toss in the shallots, ginger, carrot and lemongrass and stir for a few minutes.
Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the fresh and dried mushrooms to the pan. Stir for a few minutes until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add splashes of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid to the pan to keep the vegetables and mushrooms from sticking.
Now add a portion of the bean sprouts, stir, and pour in the coconut milk, the remaining reserved mushroom soaking liquid and 2 cups of the vegetable stock or water. Stir in the tamari, sweetener if using, paprika, curry paste and lime leaves if using. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the soup begins to thicken. Add more bean sprouts to the pan, stir and simmer for another minute or so.
Now stir in the rice noodles, turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard the lemongrass and add more vegetable stock or water as desired. Stir in the lime juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and stir in more curry paste if desired. Serve piping hot in bowls and garnish with the scallions and a few bean sprouts.