Thursday, November 5, 2009

Asian Inspired Mushroom Soup with Rice and Bok Choy

The day after cooking class I usually feel as though I need to eat a little cleaner than normal. My body isn’t accustomed to the heavy food and I always want to give it clean high fiber food to help the less healthy food leave more quickly. What could be healthier than a nice Asian inspired mushroom broth based soup? The day after cooking class I am also craving low sodium foods. This soup is intentionally very low in sodium. You may find you need to add a little more liquid aminos to your version.

I love to cook with mushrooms; they are my favorite form of vegetarian “meat substitute”. Additionally I love the health benefits that come from eating mushrooms. There was the study earlier this year that the consumption of mushrooms is linked to a reduction in breast cancer (always a good thing). I choose to use shitake and maitake mushrooms because they are both thought to have a positive impact on the immune system. Specifically they contain polysaccharides and lentinian, which stimulate the reproduction and activity of the immune cells. In Japan mushrooms are often used as a complement to chemotherapy.

Ginger, onions, garlic and bok choy are also great to include in your diet. Ginger is a strong antioxidant and helps to reduce the formation of new blood vessels to cancerous tumors. Onions promote cell death in breast, colon, leukemia, lung and prostate cancer. Additionally, the consumption of garlic has been associated with a reduction in kidney and prostate cancer. Bok choy is a member of the cruciferous family so it promotes cancer cell death and blocks the formation of blood vessels to the tumors. In addition to being good for those concerned with cancer these foods are just plain healthy for everyone.

This soup has a light character and just takes like you are doing something good for yourself when you eat it. I enjoyed the aroma of the toasted sesame and aromatics. The brown rice helps the soup to be filling. Here is how I made it.

Asian Inspired Mushroom Soup with Rice and Bok Choy
Serves 4


6 cups water
1 quart of shitake stems (from the freezer)
4 cups water
½ ounce dried maitake mushrooms
½ pound of fresh shitake caps, thinly sliced (stems saved in the freezer for the next batch of mushroom stock)
1 white onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (allow to sit at least 10 minutes before heating so the allicin can develop)
¼ inch fresh ginger, finely minced, or grated
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon liquid aminos
4 cups boy choy, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup long grain brown rice
2 cups water


Cook the shitake stems in the six cups of water for at least 30 minutes. Strain the stems and grit from the stock. I line a wire strainer with cheesecloth (or unbleached paper towel if I am out of cheesecloth) to catch the solids. Clean the cooking pot and return the strained mushroom liquid to the pot.

While the shitake stems are cooking combine the water and maitake mushrooms in a microwave safe bowl and heat to just boiling. Allow the maitake to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the maitake liquid, like above and add to the pot with shitake liquid. Take the rehydrated maitake and chop into pieces that will fit on a soup spoon. Add the maitake to the mushroom liquid.

While the mushroom broth is simmering start the brown rice in a separate pot and cook according to your package directions.

Add the sliced onion, garlic, ginger, mirin and liquid aminos to the mushroom pot and continue to simmer until soft. Add the bok choy and cook until it is a little tender (2 to 3 minutes). Add the sesame oil just before serving. Taste for seasoning and add more salt (liquid aminos) if necessary.

Place the soup in a bowl and top with brown rice.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 238.33
Calories From Fat (10%) - 22.98

Total Fat - 2.81g
Saturated Fat - 0.49g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 295.53mg
Potassium - 560.72mg
Total Carbohydrates - 50.55g
Fiber - 4.84g
Sugar - 3.81g
Protein - 6.62g


The flavor of this soup is clean and healthy. When you first smell the soup your nose is immediately met with the aroma of sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil has an intoxicating aroma in my opinion. I enjoyed this clean soup very much tonight. My husband thought this needed more salt, which doesn’t surprise me. I had intentionally kept the sodium down on this recipe because of cooking class last night and because I knew my husband had Chinese food for lunch today and I didn’t want his sodium intake today to be through the roof. Other than the low sodium he said he liked the soup.

Each serving of this soup contains over 3,000IU of vitamin A, 100mg of calcium, 80mcg of folate, 240mg of Phosphorus, and 14mcg of selenium. Not too shabby for a mere 238 calories.

Side notes:

You may have noticed that I specified shitake mushroom stems in the mushroom broth. I wanted to explain this a little for those that aren’t familiar with shitakes. Stems of shitakes never get soft enough to be pleasant to eat. However these stems do contain a lot of mushroom flavor. Since I paid for the stems I don’t want to throw them away without using them. Each time I buy fresh shitakes I cut away the stems and store them in a quart sized freezer bag in the freezer. When the bag is full I make mushroom stock with the stems.

In the photo you will notice that my rice didn’t hold together well. I tried using brown long grain rice and packing it in a small square container that I lined with plastic cling film. I thought by packing the rice tightly it would hold long enough to get a good photo. Needless to say it didn’t work. Next time I will use the short grain brown rice, which holds together well, of I will put the rice on the bottom of the bowl and call it done.

It is after 10pm here so I don't expect any more posts tonight. I hope everyone has a great evening.


  1. That sounds like my kind of food! I'm a BIG fan of mushroom (you can find out how much I love mushroom from my older posts). I don't cook mushroom very often though because my son doesn't eat them. I like to buy a big bag of dried mushroom at Costco and cook just for myself and my husband once in a while. What do you think about canned mushrooms, I used to stock a LOT of them in my cupboard.
    p.s. I've never bought long grain brown rice, I always buy Calrose short grain.

  2. Oraphan,

    I am so glad you like the sound of this soup. I love light brothy soups like this.

    Mushrooms are the best aren't they? We belong to Costco too. Are you referring to the Gourmet Dried Mushroom mix from Costco? I buy one of those everytime I go to Costco so I don't run out. I think I have three in the pantry now.

    When I was a child I didn't like mushrooms either so your son may still come around. I have read before that just by cooking a food often you are making the aroma very familar to your child and that increases the probably that they will enjoy it later in life. So keep cooking those mushroom. :)

    I grew up eating canned mushrooms but don't buy them much anymore just because I try to avoid things in cans when I can. Additionally I think the texture is a little off, although not to the extent of some canned foods.

    You have never tried long grain brown rice. Wow. Long grain basmati used to be all I bought but then again I make a lot of Indian food so basmati is sort of a requirement.

    Where do you get your Calrose rice? That is a type of rice I have't had. I will definitely look for it when I get to Wegman's later today or tomorrow. Thanks for the tip.

    talk to you soon,

  3. Debra,

    Thanks. :) I definitely liked this more than the hubby. He prefers food that is more heavy, translation fatty. Sometimes I want something light and this was perfect for me.


  4. I usually don't go to Costco that often, maybe about once or twice a month and I don't buy a lot. I usually get 25 lbs bag of Calrose white rice (I buy Calrose brown rice from Albertsons, Vons (Safeway), Ralphs, Asian or Japanese markets (I don't think we have Wegman's here), dates, tofu, apples, mangos, bananas, almonds, walnuts.I think it's Shitake dried mushrooms that I got from Costco, oh! I like to buy fresh mushrooms there too but not all the time.
    p.s. I might be too busy to visit your blog this weekend but I'll come back as soon as I get a chance. Have a lovely weekend, Alicia:)

  5. Oraphan,

    I only make it Costco once or twice a month too. Next time you are there look for the Dried Gourmet mushroom blend, we love it. We also buy all the other things you listed plus the organic baby spinach and mesclun mix.

    I didn't see brown Calrose tonight at Wegman's. It is on my Asian market list now.

    Enjoy your weekend and I will talk to you again soon.

    Have a great weekend,

  6. Oraphan,

    Mesclun is the "chefy" name for assorted baby lettuce. I think the package at Costco is labeled spring mix. They are the same thing.

    Mesclun comes from the French word mescla which means to mix from what I remember from high school French many, many years ago.

    Sorry from the confusion



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