Vitamin D Fortified Mushroom Soup Recipe

by Kirke on April 21, 2015

Subtitled: The Fungus Among Us Will Consume Us

What would you guess is the largest living organism? The blue whale, which is the largest living animal, growing 110 feet long and 200 tons, bigger than the largest dinosaur that ever lived, would be a good guess. The winner, however, is a specimen of a species of mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae, better known as the honey mushroom.This mushroom occupies 2384 acres, or four square miles of the Oregon Blue Mountains.

This mushroom occupies 2384 acres, or four square miles of the Oregon Blue Mountains.

What constitutes the bulk of this epic fungus is its mycelium, a network of white filaments, or hyphae that can only be seen underground. What we eat and call mushrooms, are the fruiting body of the mycelium and its means of reproduction. When the environment is just right, usually following a significant rainfall, mushrooms pop out of the ground from the mycelium, releasing their propagative spores.

Fungi have an important role to play in our planet’s ecosystem. This organism breaks down organic matter into elemental parts, allowing nutrients to be efficiently re-used by other living things. Life on earth would be quickly smothered by dead organic matter if fungi, along with bacteria, weren’t around to speed its disintegration. These organisms are nature’s recyclers, processing organic decay back into the soil. The prototypical association of fungi with death and decay is a bum rap, ignoring its true role as the master rebuilder (or parts supplier?) in Mother Nature’s grand plan.

Unfortunately, the monster honey mushroom in Oregon is pathological to conifers, causing root disease, which eventually leads to the death of infected pines. Most fungi form symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationships with trees. The mycelium embrace small rootlets, utilizing carbohydrates and moisture provided by the trees. In return, trees absorb nitrogen, phosphorus and other minerals from the fungi. And despite the destructive Oregonian honey mushroom, fungi often lend protection from disease. In some cases, many different types of fungi may befriend a particular species of tree. For example, Douglas fir trees have been observed cavorting with over 50 different species of fungi.

                                            Homegrown Shiitake Log

 

But what exactly are fungi? They are not plants. They cannot make their own food like plants do—no chlorophyll. They are like animals in that they obtain nutrients by consuming the organic matter of others. The similarity ends there (with one exception to be discussed shortly). Fungi have no nervous system, specialized organs, or obvious means of locomotion. All mushrooms can be called fungi, but not all fungi produce mushrooms, which is a primitive, one cell (spore) method of reproduction. Non-mushroom producing fungi include the fungus responsible for athlete’s foot, bread molds, yeasts, and mildews. Like fruits, vegetables and people, mushrooms are 85-95% water. Nutritionally, they are low in carbohydrates and fat, making them a low in calories. Mushrooms supply B vitamins, vitamin K, and some important minerals. Chanterelles are high in vitamin A, and all mushrooms are one of a handful of good food sources of vitamin D. Relatively recently it has been determined that folks are not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D.

 

Statistics gathered from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that more than 90% of those surveyed with dark skin, and 75% of Caucasians are Vitamin D deficient, nearly double the prevalence just 10 years ago. This has led to a rise in the incidence of rickets, a disease of vitamin D insufficiency and/or low calcium intake. This rise of deficiency is partially due to people reducing their exposure to sunlight, less consumption of vitamin D fortified milk, and the lack of other vitamin D food sources. The development of food products that contain vitamin D could be helpful in solving the growing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.

In a fortuitous coincidence provided by Mother Nature, and as promised earlier, mushrooms share another similarity to animals. Mushrooms have the ability to synthesize vitamin D2 (as ergocalciferol) upon exposure to UVB light from the sun, similar to the way we form previtamin D3 (as precholecalciferol). However the precursors enter the body, they are mostly converted to the active form of the vitamin by the liver. There is a company, Monterey Mushrooms, which has developed products available in grocery stores that are mushrooms fortified with vitamin D through exposure to UVB rays. One three ounce serving of irradiated button mushrooms contains 66.66% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin D. The company produces fortified white button mushrooms (all are really Agaricus bisporus), brown crimini mushrooms, and even Portobello mushrooms (really just large crimini).

…a recipe for mushroom soup utilizing Monterey Mushrooms that provides around half the daily recommended intake for vitamin D in one 8 oz. serving…

I have developed a recipe for mushroom soup utilizing Monterey Mushrooms that provides around half the daily recommended intake for vitamin D in one 8 oz. serving, about one bowl of soup. If you eat your mushroom soup outside on your deck, you will probably absorb enough sunlight to bring you up to the 600 IU’s recommended for daily intake of vitamin D! My recipe uses a rich homemade vegetarian wild mushroom stock, but substituting any vegetable stock, chicken stock or even plain water still produce a tasty mushroom soup. Find more information about how to find vitamin D fortified mushrooms at the company’s website: Monterey Mushrooms

                                                                     Porcini Buttons

 

Vitamin D Fortified Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushroom Stock, Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1 oz. Dried porcini mushrooms
1.5 Tbs. Pure olive oil
2 oz. Fresh wild mushrooms
2 oz. Button mushrooms
5 oz. Medium carrots (about 2)
4 oz. Celery stalks (about 2)
½ cup Leeks (1, white and light green parts)
1 cup Medium yellow onion (1)
½ cup Flat leaf parsley
¼ bu. Fresh thyme sprigs
2 ea. Bay leaves
6 sprigs Fresh sage leaves
2 ea. Fresh peeled garlic cloves
½ tsp. Kosher salt
10 cups Cold water
4 quart Stock pot

 

Method:

  • Soak the dry porcini in 1 cup of hot tap water for 15 minutes
  • Strain the dry porcini through a fine mesh sieve, reserve liquid and mushrooms
  • Rinse the soaked dry porcini with cold water
  • Wash the wild and button mushrooms thoroughly
  • Roughly slice the wild and button mushrooms
  • Roughly slice the leek and rinse thoroughly
  • Peel the carrots, rinse and roughly dice
  • Wash and roughly chop the celery
  • Peel and roughly chop the onion
  • Wash the parsley and roughly chop
  • Rinse the fresh thyme
  • Peel and roughly chop the garlic
  • Heat the olive oil in the stock pot over medium-high heat
  • Add the fresh mushrooms, onions, celery, carrot, leeks, garlic, parsley, thyme, sage, bay leaves and salt
  • Cook for 5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds
  • Add the dry mushrooms, reserved mushroom liquid, and the cold water, stirring twice
  • Bring the stock to a boil; then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring twice
  • Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve
  • Cool and refrigerate until needed

For the soup:

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. Pure olive oil
1 cup` Yellow onion, about 1 medium, diced
1 tsp. Kosher salt
3 ea. Cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup White wine
1 lb. Vitamin D fortified mushrooms, roughly chopped
7 cups  Wild mushroom stock (see recipe), or substitution
2 oz. White bread, lightly toasted and roughly cubed
1/8 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. Tamari (Japanese soy sauce)
¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 bu. Chives, chopped for garnish
½ pint Crème fraîche for garnish

 

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a soup pot until hot. Add the onion and 1 tsp. of the salt.
  • Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to wilt, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the wine and reduce for 3 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and stew for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the toasted bread, stirring into the mixture. Pour in the wild mushroom stock, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Let the soup cool slightly, and then puree with an immersion blender until creamy smooth. Add the tamari, vinegar, Worcestershire, black pepper and the last tsp. of salt. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
  • Serve with a swirl of crème fraîche and chopped chives.

References:

Casselman, A. (2007, October 4). Strange but true: The largest organism on earth is a fungus. Retrieved December 17, 2013, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/ article.cfm?id=strange-but-true-largest-organism-is-fungus

Arora, D. (1986). Mushrooms demystified (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Byers, K., Fong, A., & Zidaru, E. (2010, December 16). High vitamin D soup prepared with button mushrooms treated with UVB light. Unpublished manuscript, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA.

 

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

REBECCA BYERS April 26, 2015 at 9:20 am

I love the music, the photos and all that info on Vitamin D ! But I think I need to wait to the autumn mushroom season to go for the soup…n’est-ce pas ?

Reply

Kirke April 27, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Thank you Rebecca. I am sure our relationship in no way clouded your judgement regarding my article. But I am grateful for that relationship, nevertheless.

Reply

Elena April 25, 2015 at 7:35 pm

What can I say…the soup is delicious!!!
I love mushrooms, but I have to say I didn’t know a lot of the facts mentioned in your article!
Thank you!

Elena

Reply

Kirke April 27, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Thanks Elena! Aren’t you one of those famous people listed as authors on the research paper in the references? Thank you for contributing to the science backing the efficacy of my healthy, vitamin D rich soup.

Reply

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