NOTE: The linens in this post were very kindly provided by STITCH NY. They are handmade by a cool NY-based design student – definitely check her work out!
“I’m leaving next month,’ said one of my coworkers in April. “I want to go back to teaching.”
We could not believe our ears. In Italy’s fleeting economy, giving up a position like that – SEO strategist in the web office of a big firm, sounded like utter madness. This Web marketing person probably covered the single most important position in the office, not to mention that I needed him like air to properly do my job.
For those of you who don’t know, I work as a web designer and social media strategist for a rather large company. A marketing sidekick is a must-have, but when he quit little did I know what would come next.
In the office we are all friends, and one of my co-workers was the one who invited me to spend a weekend in Veneto, since he is originally from up there, and I always felt very lucky for this friendly relationship we all have. When we toured Veneto, he introduced me to many local delicacies, including these beautiful chanterelle mushrooms, that are in season in late summer and early fall.
When our new office-mate walked in and we started chatting, I immediately realized that I had many reasons to like him, but when he said he was a vegetarian I could hardly believe my ears. I knew absolutely no one outside the internet who was a vegetarian, and it took me a few seconds to stop looking at him like he was an alien.
“Valentina!” shouted my boss. “Aren’t you happy there’s another health nut like you here now?”
Me and my new web marketing sidekick exchanged a smile.
Man, was I happy.
So just the other day we were talking about how our families reacted to us turning vegetarian, and one thing that both amazed us was how our relatives seemed to enjoy discovering foods they had no idea existed before. He told me how they made a soup using barley, buckwheat and beans, and how he loved it so much that they ate it for 3 meals in a row, when it’s rather uncommon for a couple of old-style Italian parents to eat the same thing twice.
I kept thinking about this combo of grains and legumes and thought that I really wanted to replicate something similar.
Then my thought ran to my other coworker from Veneto, and I remembered seeing chanterelles everywhere when I was up there, while around here they are quite uncommon. Mushroom soups are a staple throughout the whole country, so here we are with a recipe that’s as Italian as can be, and made healthy by a mix of gluten-free pulses.
So this hearty, warming dish is dedicated to my wonderful coworkers, who make my mondays even better than my sundays and make me feel all the fuzzies just like a bowl of hot soup during the cold months. Thanks, guys!
Before I share the recipe, let’s take a look at the pulses I used, and why you should definitely add them to your diet:
All kinds of beans have been called ‘the poor man’s meat’ for many years but farmers worldwide: for much cheaper, they will provide you with a good deal of iron, protein and, on the plus side, a whole lot of fiber. All legumes are rich in magnesium, manganese, folate, and potassium. All of these nutrients help bone health and are very good for relieving PMS. All these nutrients also contribute to a healthy heart and blood circulation, and aid keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. Legumes should be a must in everybody’s diet, wether vegetarian or not.
While I recommend buying dried beans in bulk and soaking them (which is also really cheap), feel free to sue canned, but rinse them very, very well! Also, remember that all organic legumes will probably take longer to cook.
Split peas, which you can find green or yellow, are the real powerhorse of legumes. One cup of these guys contain a whopping 48g of protein (!) and an incredible 50g of fiber. With all this fiber and protein, they will keep you full for long and will not cause any post-carb sluggishness. They contain a lot of iron and, just like buckwheat (see below) and all other legumes, they contain folate and good minerals.
They do take long to cook, and they need to be soaked for at least 12 hours. But it is worth every minute!
Buckwheat, despite its name, is actually a seed. It is therefore gluten-free, and its low glycemic index does not cause peaks in blood sugar level. It is rich in manganese and magnesium, and very rich in fiber.
Plus, it is cheap and cooks quickly (less than 20 minutes).
This soup takes some time to make, but it is very straightforward and cooking time is 90% unattended. It is healthy and great for all the mushroom lovers out there. You can choose to purée part of it or leave it chunky, but I love the added creaminess. Like most soups, it tastes even better the day after and it freezes perfectly. You can also swap your favorite mushrooms for the Crimini.
Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small carrot
- A piece of celery stick
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A small bunch of parsley
- A bay leaf
- 1 cup Chanterelles mushrooms, scrubbed and cleaned
- 2 cups fresh mushrooms of choice (I used Cremini, as they're amongst my favorites)
- ½ cup dried beans, soaked overnight (pick a variety that purées easily, like black-eyed peas or cannellini)
- ½ cup dried split peas, soaked overnight or for 24 hours
- ½ cup buckwheat
- A small handful of dried porcini mushooms, rehydrated for several hours
- 4 to 5 cups of vegetable stock (or an organic veggie bouillon cube)
- Salt and Pepper
- Peel your vegetables, then finely mince the garlic and parsley, and finely chop the onion, carrot and celery.
- Add the oil to a pot, and stir-fry these veggies you chopped until fragrant and aromatic, about 5-8 minutes. Add the mushrooms, along with the dried porcini, reserving the water, and stir to combine with the base. If the veggies threaten to stick, add a splash of water - or you could add a splash of wine. Let them cook on medium-low for 10 minutes, then add the soaked legumes, the bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and 4 cups of stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, and let it cook on low, half-covered, for about an hour. Check the pot at the 40 minute mark to make sure the liquid hasn't dried up too much. At this point, add the buckwheat, which takes about 20 minutes to cook. The soup might need to simmer more or less than an hour, depending on how long the legumes take to cook. Taste them to check. Adjust salt and pepper, too.
- Once everything is cooked, you can decide to purée half the soup, or leave it chunky. If you want to purée the soup, use an extra cup of stock.
- Serve with a good grating of hard seasoned cheese, like Grana or Pecorino (if not keeping this vegan), and with some extra virgin olive oil.
Did you ever make mushroom soup? How do you make it? And what are your favorite fall soups? Let’s spread the soup love!
Here’s a collective of awesome soups found on the web. Soup. Soup EVERYWHERE. The internets have been raided by soup. Let’s jump on the soup bandwagon and spread some love! <3
~ This Beautifully photographed garlic soup by Brooklyn Supper.
~ This Broccoli Lemon Parmesan soup is first on my to-do list.
~ Lindsay from Dolly & Oatmeal wins 1st prize for the prettiest soup currently on the internet.
~ Giulia, queen of everything Tuscan, has this must-try Savoy cabbage soup (but also check her Tuscan bean soup with farro!)
~ can’t go wrong with miso and butternut! By Mable & the Wooden Spoon.
~ If Quinoa is your thing, Pure Ella has the right soup for you – featuring adzuki beans, too!