You can, of course, purchase pre-made mushroom stock from the grocery store, but there's such fresh, amazing flavor to the homemade variety that it's worth taking a little extra time. Plus, your kitchen will smell amazing while it simmers. The secret ingredient to this earthy broth? Dried lentils!
For the Mushroom Stock:
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/3 cup vegan dry red wine
- 1/4 cup dried lentils
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 fresh sage sprig
- 1 whole garlic head, cut in half
Note: if you want to stop here, you can get creative with uses for this stock. Try it as a base for any mushroom-barley soup, gravy over baked or mashed potatoes, or the cooking liquid to make braised beans.
2 servings (1 cup), Calories 29
Now moving on to the stew itself. This dish gets an extra touch from the gremolata on top - a chopped herb condiment traditional in Milanese cooking.
For the stew:
- 4 and 1/2 cups quartered shiitake mushroom caps
- 4 and 1/2 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
- 1 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms, cut into quarters
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups thinly sliced leek*
- 1 cup chopped fennel bulb
- 1 cup (1-inch thick) sliced carrot
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 cups Mushroom Stock
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (14.5-ounce) undrained can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1 minced garlic clove
2. Heat the remaining 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek, fennel, and carrot; cook for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt then cover, reduce heat, and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and add the cooked mushroom mixture, the prepared Mushroom Stock, the soy sauce, the tarragon, the thyme, the sage, the agave nectar, the black pepper, and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Note: there is a lot of chopping involved in the prep for this recipe. If you want to save a bit of time, substitute dried herbs for the fresh - use 1/4 teaspoon each of dried tarragon, thyme, and sage instead.
3. Combine the cornstarch and water in a bowl, and add to the stew; cook for 1 minute.
4. To prepare the gremolata, combine the flat-leaf parsley, lemon rind, and garlic. Serve over the stew. I added store-bought polenta on the side, which was a great way to round out the meal.
*Leeks are a tricky veggie to clean before chopping. To ensure you get the dirt from all the layers of the leek, slice first, then place the slices in a colander and rinse with cold water.
4 servings (2 cups stew, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons gremolata), Calories 228
This stew stood out from the dozens of mushroom soups and stews I've had before in so many ways. First, what a novel idea to bake the mushrooms, rather than simmering them - it really condensed the flavor in a rich way. Beyond that, the homemade mushroom stock came out great, I loved the deep umami flavor from the addition of soy sauce, and between the tarragon and the fennel, there were wonderful hints of licorice in the background. My only real complaint? The carrots were a bit tough, no doubt because the recipe called for such large pieces; I recommend 1/2-inch thick slices instead.