Energize your taste buds with this deliciously blended mushroom soup that delivers all the umami-flavored health benefits without the ‘shroomy chewy.
Spongy in texture and earthy in flavor, mushrooms have been foraged by humans for 13,000 years all over the world. There are an estimated 10,000 varieties (although only 28% are edible), and they are packed with protein and powerful antioxidants. Yet despite the health benefits, few Americans have integrated fungi into their diet. The average American consumes 222 lbs of meat every year, yet only 3-4 lbs of mushrooms! The result is heightened bodily stress through higher cancer rates, increased obesity, and rampant diabetes.
However, scientists have been pursuing the power of mushrooms by studying their anti-cancer benefits. Their high antioxidant levels are associated with protection from cell damage and the reduction of chronic disease and inflammation. They are also surprisingly low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free while delivering fiber and over a dozen minerals and vitamins. As a result, some entrepreneurs are promoting mushrooms to increase health and stimulate focus, with beverages like mushroom coffee and reishi tea becoming increasingly popular within America's coastal communities.
To ‘shroom or not to ‘shroom?
A common deterrent for Americans from eating more mushrooms is their texture. Mushrooms have a delightful chewiness, and can rot quickly, turning that bouncy umami-scented skin into a smelly slime.
So how can we consume more mushrooms without stomaching the ick-factor?
A deliciously blended mushroom soup!
Power Up with this blended mushroom soup recipe!
Celebrity dietitian Rachel Beller specializes in anti-cancer nutrition, and her book Power Souping has an easy, delicious, umami-filled mushroom soup that allows you to use whichever mushroom varieties you can find. Its called Goddess: Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup (page 113), and it delivers powerful plant proteins and antioxidants that help prevent cancer and its recurrence.
The ingredients for this soup come down to a couple of aromatics (garlic and leeks), with a couple of cups of chopped mushrooms, and a couple of cups of plant-milk (like almond milk). Its a simple prep-stew-blend recipe that tastes incredible, provides amazing nutrients, and is so low-calorie, you can sip it daily without a shred of guilt!
Which mushrooms will you use?
The recipe is open to you using whichever mushroom varieties you can find. 98% of Americans only consume the white button, the cremini, or the portobello— the most common mushrooms found in stores— which are frankly, all the same mushroom. The white button is an immature portobello, with the cremini (sometimes marketed as the Baby ‘Bello) the middle-child of the same variety. These mushrooms have a robust meaty texture, and are often used alongside savory meat dishes.
I was lucky enough to find some shiitake at my local supermarket, which have a distinctive umami flavor and a soft, suede-like texture. Sniff the gills under the umbrella and you’ll find a slightly garlicky, slightly pine aroma.
Porcini mushrooms are plump and meaty with a brown color, and have a woodsy flavor that holds up well with grilled meats and hearty stews.
Chanterelles have a delicate nutty flavor with a hint of pepper, and yellow-orange caps that look beautiful in sautéed dishes.
Morels are coveted in springtime— they are rare and expensive with an intoxicating woodsy, nutty aroma and honeycomb-shaped spores instead of a traditional cap.
Enoki mushrooms are delicate white, and long-stemmed, found often in Asian dishes with a slightly sweet, grape-like flavor.
Oyster mushrooms are also common in Asian dishes, with a velvety texture and a mild flavor. Specialty mushroom mongers may offer grey or lemon oyster mushrooms that have the same flavor profile, but come in different colors offering a beautiful medley, perfect for entertaining.
Hen of the Woods are also known as Maitake mushrooms, and they have a delicate, feathery texture with a bold, nutty flavor that is more intense than a portobello.
Lastly, Wood Ear mushrooms have a light and subtle flavor and, when cooked, take on a firm, crunchy texture with a mild, musty flavor.
There are, of course, a nearly infinite amount of mushrooms available through specialty mushroom farmers, and they are the experts at helping you discover delicious varieties from all over the world.
This recipe is so easy to make, and delicious to sip, it would be fun to experiment with different 'shroomy flavor profiles every time you try it. By blending the ingredients together, you can gain all the advantages of mushroom nutrition while avoiding that distinctive chew that so many Americans reject.
Want more fungi-sci?
Click here to delve into the nutritional science of mushrooms— how they might help prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes, while boosting our immunity, strengthening our focus, and helping us manage our weight.