Wild Mushroom & Thyme Soup with Toasted Walnuts + why mushrooms are magic!

By Amy Crawford

Our one last hurrah for heartwarming, cold weather meals post winter. Given the intense storms we are experiencing here in Melbourne (is anyone else here in Melbourne feeling sleep deprived following those storms last night?!) we decided soup was a necessary addition to the weekly menu. Let me assure you, if you're a mushroom fan like myself this mushroom soup is more than deserving of an inclusion! You'll whip it up in no time at all and devour it even faster. Double the recipe and freeze in portions - you can rest assured (Victorians) that we'll be seeing four seasons in one day over the coming weeks. 

Whilst we're featuring mushroom soup, it'd be remiss of us not to share their qualities. Here are 5 reasons why mushrooms are just so magic:

1. Vitamin & mineral rich: Did you know that mushrooms are among the only natural food sources of Vitamin D? Also a great source of selenium, potassium and iron. Do know that to receive maximum nutritional benefits mushrooms must be cooked/exposed to heat (their cell walls are otherwise indigestible).

2. Full of fiber: A great source of chitin and beta-glucan, fibers that lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.

3. Immune boosting: The beta-glucans found in mushrooms also protect against colds, flus and viruses. The Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2005) found that shiitake, portobello, oyster and reishi mushrooms were most effective at immune system stimulation.

4. Anti-oxidant support: Fight the ageing effects of free radicals in your body with mushrooms. We usually associate antioxidants with colourful fruit and vegetables (think blueberries, carrots etc), however the mushroom brings an ORAC score comparable to that of red capsicum.

5. Cancer prevention: An increasing body of evidence is mounting in support of mushrooms preventing breast cancer in particular, due to their anti-estrogenic properties (Hong, Kim, Nan et. al., 2008).

Serves 2

You will need:
600g mixed mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
600 ml stock of choice (vegetable or meat based)
1 large handful dried porcini mushrooms
1 brown onion, sliced
1 large handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and ground pepper

To garnish
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 small handful Italian parsley, chopped
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil


Place the dried porcini in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Set aside to soak.

Place a heavy based casserole dish on the stove on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms, thyme and a good pinch of sea salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, lid off. Now add the porcini mushrooms with the water they are soaking in and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, lid on. 

For the garnish, heat a small frying pan on the stove on medium heat, add the walnuts and toast until browning. Set aside. Pop the frying pan back on the stove with the drizzle of olive oil and mushrooms. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until cooked. Stir through the parsley and walnuts. Set aside. 

Pour the soup into a high powered blender with the lemon juice and blend until smooth. Season further if required. To serve, pour into bowls and top with the mushroom and walnut garnish and a dollop of sour cream or mascarpone (if dairy friendly).

By the way, if you're a mushroom fan and are yet to try our Porcini Mushroom and Kale Buckwheat Risotto I urge you please, do so!  


References
Hong SA, Kim K, Nam SJ, et al:
A case-control study on the dietary intake of mushrooms and breast cancer risk among Korean women. Int J Cancer 2008;122:919-923.

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October 27 2014

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