Comforting Shiitake Mushroom Soup
When you’re too busy to whip up a complicated meal or if your pantry runs out of the essentials, a warm bowl of soup never fails. There are numerous ways to prepare soups, and you can use almost any ingredient on hand. Got fresh shiitakes? Then you must try this quick and easy shiitake mushroom soup recipe by Mercola.com reader Jen.
Packed with nutrients that may help boost your immunity, shiitakes give this soup an earthy flavor that can easily be paired with side dishes or main meals. Even your leftover chicken or turkey will be put to good use as you remake it as a broth for a meaty taste.
Shiitake Mushroom Soup
- 3 tablespoons Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon organic grass fed butter
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, diced
- 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 16 ounces turkey drippings, or organic chicken or turkey broth
- Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt, to taste
- Pepper, to garnish
- Parsley, to garnish
- Heat oil and butter in a medium stockpot over medium to high heat.
- Add onions, carrots and garlic.
- Sauté until onions become translucent and the carrots soften.
- Add shiitakes and continue to sauté until mushrooms release their juices and the mixture becomes watery.
- Add broth and bring to a low simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once the soup has simmered, use an immersion blender or stand blender to puree the soup until no lumps remain. Add salt to taste.
- Serve piping hot with desired garnishes.
Help Boost Your Immunity With Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) are one of the most commonly consumed mushrooms in the world, accounting for 17 percent of global mushroom consumption.1 Shiitakes deliver various health benefits, including an immunity boost when regularly consumed. In a 2011 study, participants who consumed shiitake mushrooms for four weeks were found to demonstrate improvements in their gamma delta T-cells and inflammatory proteins, which not only boosted their immune system, but also lessened their risk of inflammation.2
A 2015 study also found that they help improve cell production and increase secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) production, which may lead to a better and more stable gut immunity.3 Shiitake mushrooms may also help improve your immune system and quality of life as you undergo chemotherapy.4
Additionally, extracts of these fungi contain carbohydrates, protein, phenolic compounds and lignin digest that aid in numerous physiological activities.5They were found to exhibit antioxidant activity that may help fight against various human diseases6 and alleviate paracetamol-induced liver damage.7Some of the nutrients found in shiitake mushrooms are:8
When buying mushrooms, choose those that have been organically grown without pesticides, as they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in, for better or worse. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals and other pollutants, so organic, pesticide-free growing conditions are important.
If your area’s weather conditions permit, you may also grow your own mushrooms to be sure of their safety and freshness. If you keep them as a staple, dried shiitakes may also be an alternative to fresh mushrooms, which may give the soup a deeper flavor. Soak them in hot or boiling water, wait for at least 20 minutes and then gently squeeze out the excess water.9
Whether store-bought or harvested from your garden, unused mushrooms must be placed inside a loosely closed paper bag and refrigerated as soon as possible. Also, remember that they will dry out and lose weight when stored for a long time, so it’s best to consume them when they’re fresh.10
Why You Should Use Organic Free-Range Chicken or Turkey Broth
Aside from their nutritional benefits, free-range poultry like chicken and turkey can add a rich flavor to dishes even if only their leftover bones, meat and drippings are used. Turkey boasts a number of nutrients including protein, calcium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin A and vitamin D.11
The gelatin found in the cartilages and bones of turkey may help minimize the effects of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, as found by a 2000 study. It is generally safe to consume, making it an effective agent for long-term consumption.12 Glycine, an amino acid found in gelatin,13 was also found to have a calming effect that may help you sleep.14
On the other hand, organic chicken contains a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids15 and is less likely to cause illnesses compared to factory farmed chickens, which can harbor dangerous pathogens like enterococcus, E. coli, campylobacter, klebsiella pneumonia and staphylococcus aureus.16 Instead of buying, you can also make homemade turkey broth, which I highly recommend. You will be able to maximize the benefits mentioned if you use organic turkey or chicken that has the American Grassfed Association’s grass fed label.
This ensures that the poultry you purchased went through a healthy and humane treatment, is raised on pasture and fed only grass and forage, meets consumer expectations on grass fed products, is not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, and is raised on American family farms.17 Organic free-range poultry may also be tastier because of the natural food sources.18
7 Shiitake Mushroom Soup Cooking Tips
Cooking soups may require various techniques depending on your ingredients, but for this mushroom soup recipe, here are a few tricks to make it the best possible:
- Instead of using regular table salt that is processed and may contain additives, season your dishes with Himalayan salt. It contains naturally occurring trace minerals that are essential for healthy bones, fluid balance and overall health. Because Himalayan salt usually has larger crystals and is saltier, you may use smaller amounts to achieve your desired taste.19
- To soften carrots, boil them whole with their skins intact to retain most of their nutrients. Chop or slice them once they’re cooked.20
- Choose organic onions instead of the conventionally grown ones because their flavonoid levels and antioxidant activity are higher.21
- Crush the garlic and wait five to 10 minutes before cooking to delay the loss of its antiplatelet activity.22
- Dr. Steven Gundry, author of “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain,” recommends using MCT oil instead of coconut oil if you have a leaky gut to avoid complications due to coconut oil’s lauric acid content.
- If grass fed butter is unavailable or if you are lactose intolerant, you may use organic and grass fed ghee or clarified butter, which is just as healthy and flavorful.
- To avoid the absorption of excess water, rinse mushrooms before slicing them, and then pat them dry using a paper towel. Do these right before cooking them.23
- 1 Genes (Basel). 2017 Apr; 8(4): 109
- 2 Science Daily, “Mushrooms Boost Immunity, Suggests Research”
- 3 J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-87
- 4 Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(3):451-9
- 5 Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 2012 Jul;39(7):1099-102
- 6 Int J Biol Macromol. 2012 Jan 1;50(1):214-8
- 7 Molecules. 2010 Jun 23;15(6):4478-89
- 8 USDA, “Basic Report: 11238, Mushrooms, shiitake, raw”
- 9 Kitchn, “Why Dried Shiitake Mushrooms Should Be in Your Pantry”
- 10 Northeast SARE, “Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States”
- 11 USDA, “Basic Report: 05168, Turkey, Whole, Meat Only, Cooked, Roasted”
- 12 Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Oct;30(2):87-99
- 13 Medical News Today, August 27, 2017
- 14 Sleep Biol Rhythm. 2007 Mar;5(2):126-131
- 15 Poultry Science, 2008:87(1);80-88
- 16 Consumer Reports January 2014
- 17 American Grassfed Association, “Our Standards”
- 18 Food Network, “Turkey Talk: Is Free Range Or Organic Worth It?”
- 19 Medical News Today, July 30, 2018
- 20 Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2016, 75 (OCE2), E55
- 21 Science Daily, “Organic conditions boost flavonoids and antioxidant activity in onions”
- 22 J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 21;55(4):1280-8
- 23 Cook’s Illustrated, “Mushrooms 101: Everything You Need to Know”