I love soups from the east – miso soup, ramen, pho and more. Chef Ilan Hall, who you may know as one of the first winners of Top Chef, or his Brooklyn restaurant The Gorbals where he films the show Knife Fight, is a chef who likes to challenge himself. Knife Fight often includes ingredients like pigs head or live catfish or lamb belly or shark. Not exactly veg friendly. But he recently opened Ramen Hood in one of my favorite food places in LA – Grand Central Market. Ramen Hood is no ordinary ramen place – the dishes are vegan. He makes mushroom broth that is meaty, creamy, spiced with togarashi, filled with ramen and topped with a faux soft boiled egg – yes a faux egg. I have yet try to try Ramen Hood but I have been craving it already. While on the Whole30 I have been unable to eat some of my favorite soups as they contain ramen, or rice noodles or soy – fermented or fresh. So I decided it was time to make my own mushroom based, asian-inspired soup, with bok choy and spaghetti squash for noodles. I haven’t figured out a faux-egg yet, so I topped with with a real poached egg. The result was earthy, flavorful and hit the spot.
I love shiitakes and you will see that I use them in many recipes – they are earthy and full of flavor. They serve as the base of many asian vegetarian soups. To start the soup, I created a base of flavor with coconut oil, ginger, onion, toasted sesame oil and garlic. The onion were cooked for about 5 minutes until translucent before adding the sliced shiitakes. The shiitakes were cooked until the oils were released to emit a fragrant smell – about 5 minutes. I use fresh shiitake, but if you are unable to find them, rehydrated dried shiitake can be used. The stems are removed for this dish, but I save stems for veggie stocks.
Kombu is edible dried kelp and is an important part of a Japanese dashi, a traditional Japanese soup stock of sorts. Kelp helps to add that umami quality by providing an amino acid called glutamic acid. It aslo provides iodine. If you are like me, I tend to cook with sea salts and himalayan salts which are not iodized…iodine is important for our health and other than iodized salts, the other sources are seafoods…like kelp. It is dry and hard and will cook with the broth – I rinse it, add it to the mushrooms then add the broth. I prefer to remove the actual sheet of Kombu once the broth is done cooking as it has infused its flavor. However, it can be chopped into strips which remain in the broth – it is a unique texture and adds dietary fiber. I take it out as it competes with all the other textures in the soup.
Vegetable stock and water bring up the volume of soup and after it reaches a rolling boil, it is simmered for 20 min. To the simmering broth I add in chopped baby bok choy and carrots. Instead of Bragg’s liquid aminos which contain soy, I use coconut aminos and coconut vinegar, but you can always use Bragg’s or a soy sauce and rice vinegar. Let it simmer for another 20 minutes.
Hmmm, fragrant, flavorful broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish off with a squeeze of half of a lime to cut through the fat and richness and add some brightness and acid.
Separately, I cook a spaghetti squash for “noodles” and poach an egg.
First, ladle the soup into the bowl. Then add in the spaghetti squash noodles.
For a perfectly poached egg, I fill a small sauce pan with water and 1 Tbs of vinegar – your choice. The stronger vinegars may infuse a flavor so use a mild tasting one (coconut, white wine, rice….apple cider is in between but serves well for a poached egg). Once the water has reached a boil, I reduce the heat to a simmer and use a spoon to swirl the water in a single direction. Once the water is swirling around, I drop in the egg.
I twirls around as the water spins, shedding some of the white. The water will come to a rest with the egg on the bottom. Let it cook for a total of 4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon and place into the broth. Garnish with scallion
Rich, warm, satisfying. You can let the egg rest longer in the soup for further cooking, but I prefer mine runny so I dig in.
Mushroom broth with veggies, spaghetti squash noodles and a poached egg
- 1 Tbs coconut oil
- 2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbs ginger, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium white onion, sliced
- 9 large shiitake mushrooms, no stems, sliced – about 10 ounces
- 1 kombu piece, rinsed
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 4 cups water
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 6 baby bok choy, chopped
- 4 Tbs coconut aminos
- 3 Tbs coconut vinegar
- pinch of cayenne
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- spaghetti squash noodles, cooked and removed from squash shell
- Scallions, chopped for garnish
- poached egg (optional)
Over medium heat, add coconut oil and sesame oil, ginger, garlic and onion to a large pot or dutch oven. Sautee for about 5 minutes with stirring until softened and partially translucent. Add in shiitakes and cook down for another 5 minutes until fragrant and releasing oils. Add rinsed Kombu, along with broth and water, cover to bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 min. Add in baby bok choy, carrots, coconut aminos, coconut vinegar and cayenne, stir and simmer for another 20 min. Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into a bowl, add some squash noodles and a poached egg. Garnish with scallions and serve.