Today we’re making a plant-based version of chicken noodle soup. That must mean we’re adding cubes of tofu to our soup, right? Not so fast! Notice those shreds of “chicken” in this soup? They aren’t chicken. They aren’t tofu. They aren’t unhealthy mock-meat. Nope, these are oyster mushrooms.
The day I discovered that oyster mushrooms, look, feel, and taste like chicken (in a good way) was one of the happiest of my life. These fragile white mushrooms grow in the shape of oyster shells (thus the name) and I buy them from the mushroom guy at my farmer’s market (don’t we all have mushroom guys?). They’re really incredible for a million reasons, but their chicken-like properties makes them one of my new favorite ingredients.
In this soup, these mushrooms not only replace the chicken’s shape and texture, they also enhance the broth, giving it a rich and meaty and comforting taste to go along with the bounty of fresh veggies, comforting pasta, and fragrant herbs. I mean, I had high hopes for this soup, but it really blew me away. Best of all, it’s dead simple to make and takes no time at all. I don’t care if it’s 100º outside (like it is in California this week), make this soup ASAP.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion
- 3-4 carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups (chopped) oyster mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups pasta (I used fusilli)
- 1/3 cup (chopped) fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Salt & black pepper
This soup starts with a solid base of chopped carrots, celery, and white onion (mirepoix). A typical mirepoix would be finely-chopped, but I like to add larger, more rustic chunks to this soup by loosely chopping the onion and slicing the carrots and celery into half-moon pieces. Also, finely-chop 3 cloves of garlic. Add all this to a large stockpot that has been heated with a splash of olive oil.
Give these veggies about 5 minutes in the stockpot over medium-high heat to soften and turn more translucent. Then, add the vegetable broth + water and bring to a boil.
Next, add all the other ingredients into the pot (loosely-chopped mushrooms, pasta, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt (to taste), and liberal amounts of black pepper. Let this return to a boil and turn down the heat to a low simmer. Cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes while the flavors work together to turn this soup into something magical.
That’s it! Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for several days.