Healing Mushroom Miso Soup

My dad credits this soup with helping him survive lung cancer and finally conquering his life-long battle with obesity. This healing soup, made with shitake, portabella and maitake mushrooms, revived his spirit when he was diagnosed. He remembered how his mother, my Bubbe Mary, cooked for him when he was in a coma after being beaten up by a bunch of bullies in the sixth grade taunting him about his weight. Bubbe said it was the smells from her kitchen that brought him back to life. Bubbe was gone, but when he was sick he remembered Bubbe’s words… “soup is good food,” eventually turning her beliefs into a famous advertising tag line for Campbell’s Home-Style brand soup.

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1 (2–3 inch) fresh organic ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ organic onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of oil of choice (or ghee) 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup sliced mixed raw mushrooms — shiitake, portabella, maitake
Water, or you can use 64 ounces of vegetable broth
1 cup organic dried Shiitake mushrooms
½ pound tofu, diced
¼ cup organic miso paste (There are many types of miso to choose from. I like sweet white miso — this is a paste not a powder — and you can add a little more if you like a strong miso flavor)
1 head of roasted garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon of salt (preferably a truffle salt or good-quality Himalayan salt) or more to taste

1) In a stockpot, sauté the ginger and onion in the oil or ghee until the onion just begins to sweat. Add the raw garlic and raw mushrooms and cook till browned. Then add the water or broth to the pot and bring to a slow boil. Add the dried mushrooms and tofu and then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the dried shiitakes are fully reconstituted.

2) While the pot of mushrooms is simmering, ladle about 6 ounces of the broth into a separate bowl and add the miso paste to it, stirring until dissolved. Next, add the mashed roasted garlic to this mixture. Once thoroughly combined, add the garlic-miso mixture back into the pot. Stir well and enjoy all the healing properties of this magic broth.

Note: Miso is a traditional Japanese fermented soy or rice paste. Its healing power is often compared to chicken soup, especially when paired with immune boosters like garlic, ginger, onion and shiitake mushrooms.

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Recipe from “My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes” by Dawn Lerman, Berkley Books/2015.

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