Shiitake mushroom, tofu and bok choy soup

A soup so simple, clean-flavored, and pure.

The Rowdy Chowgirl
Shiitake mushroom, tofu and bok choy soup.

At Michael Pollan’s appearance in Seattle last week, he mentioned one of his well-known Food Rules, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

The intent, of course, is to eliminate highly processed foods that are full of artificial ingredients. My great-grandmother would not have recognized Go-Gurt, or Pop Tarts, or anything made with carrageenan or guar gum or red dye #40 or “natural and artificial flavors”.

It’s a good rule. But I started thinking about this soup recipe I’ve wanted to share with you – my Shiitake, Tofu and Bok Choy Soup. This soup is so simple, clean-flavored, and pure that it feels like spa food. It would be just the thing for lunch outside under the trees between meditation in the morning and a massage in the afternoon. It only has a handful of ingredients, but offers a pleasing contrast of textures–smooth, crunchy, chewy. Plus, it only takes about half an hour to make.

The soup certainly holds to the spirit of Michael Pollan’s food rules. But when I thought about what my grandmother’s reaction to this soup would be, let alone my great-grandmother, I got a fit of the giggles. Because while some grandmas would no doubt recognize ingredients like tofu and bok choy, my sweet Midwestern grandma would be completely nonplussed.

I decided that what some of us might need is an extra great-grandma – an Imaginary Granny, just like the imaginary friend named Edna that I palled around with when I was about nine years old. In fact, I could use an entire council of Imaginary Grannies from all over the world. With all due respect to my extant grandmother, my first Imaginary Granny is going to be Japanese. Boy, is Obaasan ever going to come in handy as part of my food conscience advisory council! And all of the ingredients in this soup are fully recognized and approved by her.


Shiitake mushroom,tofu and bok choy soup

Olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
8 cups stock (I used turkey stock, but chicken or vegetable would work fine)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 bunch bok choy, chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
7 ounces firm tofu, cubed

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté just until translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium high, add more oil if needed, and add mushrooms; sauté until lightly browned. Add garlic, tamari, fish sauce, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add bok choy and tofu. Simmer gently until bok choy is tender, about 5-10 minutes.

Christina Masters blogs at The Rowdy Chowgirl.

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