I haven’t eaten meat in decades, but I love the meaty texture of mushrooms, and really enjoy the addition of dried, rehydrated mushrooms that taste even more meaty than fresh ‘shrooms. For weeks I had mushrooms on my mind, and when I finally got down to creating some recipes, I ended up making mushrooms stuffed acorn squash, mushroom sweet potato bean burgers, and this hearty, soul warming Mushroom Lentil Soup. This meaty-tasting soup is full of immune supporting mushrooms and fibre rich lentils to keep you full and satisfied. It’s delicious and hearty comfort in a bowl. My love swooned over this soup so much that the two containers that went into the freezer came right back out again so he could enjoy this soup for lunch for a few days in a row.
We’re lucky to have a local mushroom producer who sells a variety of mushrooms at the farmer’s market on Saturdays, including lion’s mane, shiitake, oyster and cinnamon caps. Dehydrating mushrooms means having these flavour rich and nutritional powerhouse foods readily available.
There is archeological evidence that mushrooms have been consumed as a source of food for thousands of years. While there are 2000 edible varieties of mushrooms, only about 20 are cultivated commercially (1).
Nutrients in mushrooms
Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin C, D and B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folate, which are retained even after cooking or processing. The vitamins present are well retained both after cooking and processing. Mushrooms also contain minerals including potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and copper.
Health benefits of mushrooms
Mushrooms are considered potent immune modulators. They contain polysaccharides, especially beta-glucans, which are prebiotic to support healthy intestinal bacteria, and activate immune-supportive macrophages and natural killer cells (2).
Some of the more readily available mushrooms around here include button, cremini, portobello, lion’s mane, shiitake, oyster and maitake. Their health benefits include the following (3)
- Lion’s mane – anti-cancer, memory and cognition, allergy and asthma
- Shiitake – cholesterol reduction, reducing stress, liver protectant, diabetes
- Oyster -cholesterol reduction
- Maitake -cancer treatment, cholesterol reduction, stress reduction, treating diabetes
Other health supporting properties of mushrooms include (4):
- Protection for the liver
- immune modulating
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces blood clots
- helps to lower blood cholesterol
- reduces osteoporosis
Enough talk of the science of mushrooms. Let’s get to the taste by making this Mushroom Lentil Soup. Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you. This soup has a delicious complex taste that’s sure to please meat lovers and plant based aficionados alike.
Mushroom Lentil Soup
- 1 ½ cups puy lentils
- 2 oz mixed dried mushrooms
- 4 cups hot water
- 12 oz cremini mushrooms
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tamari soy
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 cups cashew cream made from 1 cup cashews and 2 cups water
- Soak lentils in water for 4 hours. Drain and rinse.
- Rinse mixed dried mushrooms and add to bowl with 4 cups of hot water for 10 minutes to rehydrate.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in large pot. Add onions, garlic and chopped fresh mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release their juices, about 10 minutes.
- Remove rehydrated mushrooms from water and chop roughly.
- Add lentils, rehydrated mushrooms, water from mushrooms, vegetable stock, tamari, salt and pepper to the pot of cooked mushrooms, onions and garlic. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender.
- Stir in cashew cream and fresh thyme. Let soup simmer from five minutes to heat cashew cream