Found growing in moist forests on the decaying trunks of fallen trees, Shiitake mushrooms have been an important medicine and food source in Asia for thousands of years. These “flower mushrooms” are known to be potent immune system boosters that are frequently taken to help support the body during a bout with the common cold or seasonal flu. They’re also really delicious, with a nice meaty texture. Food is medicine, right?
The stories say that a thousand years ago, a farmer decided to score a moist log and then packed wild Shiitakes into the notched wood. To his happy surprise, the inoculation was successful and soon whole mushrooms grew from the trunk, making Shiitakes one of the first cultivated fungi. These much beloved mushrooms can be taken as an extract, tea, or in capsule form. They’re also commonly used in cooking and can be easily reconstituted to use in soups, stir-fries, curries, and sautés, or powdered and used in gravies.
Shiitake Miso Ginger Soup
Miso is a traditional Japanese fermented soy or rice paste that offers savory deliciousness. Its healing power is often compared to good old chicken soup – especially when paired with cold-fighters like garlic, ginger, onion, and immune boosting shiitake mushrooms. This is an easy, rustic recipe that can be adjusted to your taste with additional herbs and veggies.
2-3 inch fresh organic ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 head of roasted garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
5 to 10 raw garlic cloves, chopped (depending on how medicinal you need it to be)
½ cup organic miso paste
½ organic onion, chopped
2 organic carrots, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup organic dried Shiitake mushrooms
fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a stock pot, sauté ginger and onion in butter until the onion just begins to sweat. Add the raw garlic and 1.5 quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shiitakes are fully reconstituted. Remove from heat and add miso paste, stirring until dissolved. Next, add the mashed roasted garlic. Stir well and ladle the soup into your favorite mug.
Recipe and historical information provided by Erin of Mountain Rose Herbs