Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent choice for wintertime dinner tables with their deep, earthy flavors.

Their high protein values help build muscle and strength. Their nutritive values are plentiful; high-protein and  low-fat, they also have been known to reduce cholesterol, and strengthen the immune system.

But that’s not all, according to Dr. Sandra Williams of Lost Creek Mushroom Farm, Shiitake mushrooms also can help stabilize moods. These mushrooms contain compounds and energetic imprints that can affect our emotions, relieving grief and sorrow and bolstering feelings of happiness and joy.

“Shiitake mushrooms can help us lose the winter’s blues,” Dr. Sandra Williams of Lost Creek Mushroom Farm says. “Shiitakes are high in protein, low in fat and can actually lower cholesterol, making them ideal for weight-loss and health-improvement resolutions. They create feelings of happiness and joy. Ancient peoples in Asia, where shiitakes grow wild, ate them to ease sorrow and grief.”

So whether you’re in need of a warming, delicious soup to fight off the cold and flu bugs this season, or simply in need of a mood or energy boost, a hot bowl of creamy soup can certainly help get the job done.

Did I mention that Shiitake mushrooms are delicious, too? Try this recipe.

Creamy Shiitake Soup

Yield: Serves 4

Creamy Shiitake Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • ½ lb. shiitake, quartered if large
  • Shiitake stems
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp. ketchup
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. dry sherry

Instructions

Start with the stems. They are edible, but woody and tough. Either slice them very thin or bake them at 300° F./149° C. until dry enough to powder in a processor. Add dried stems to the soup when they're ready. Sauté the shiitakes (and sliced stems) in butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan until lightly browned. Remove and reserve about 1/3 of the mushrooms. To the shiitake pan, add the onions and cook until limp and golden. Mix in flour, cooking until bubbly. Add salt, thyme and ketchup. Remove from heat. Gradually mix in broth. Cook and stir until soup boils gently. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Whirl soup, half at a time, in a blender until it has the desired consistency. Return it to the saucepan. Stir in the half-and-half and heat until steaming (Do not boil). Beat egg with lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir in a small amount of hot soup. Pour egg mixture into remaining soup. Mix in reserved shiitake. Cook, stirring, until very hot (Do not boil). Mix in sherry.

Notes

Recipe courtesy of Lost Creek Mushroom Farm and adapted from “The Shiitake Sampler,” by Janet Bratkovich. Additional shiitake recipes are available on the Lost Creek Mushroom Farm website (below).

Lost Creek Mushroom Farm sells shiitake mushroom log kits, guaranteed to produce, from $30-$80, including shipping and handling. Kits, gift baskets, 6-inch ‘Shroomies, and more products are available at http://www.shiitakemushroomlog.com.

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