I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time in the kitchen lately, mostly developing recipes for my new brassicas cookbook (all my favorites–cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage…), but also simmering up soups and broths for sick friends. This mushroom broth is something I’ve made repeatedly over the past year, and it has been particularly nourishing to friends who have lost their appetites to chemo and radiation. The circumstances, of course, are far from ideal, but I’m always glad when I can help a friend along with their recovery through my efforts in the kitchen.
One thing I’ve noticed is that these friends nearly always want something to sip, and they want it to be savory, not sweet. The mushroom broth tastes rich and full flavored, absolutely bursting with umami from both the dried mushrooms and the koumbu. (Kombu is dried kelp, often used in the dashi broth in miso soup. Find it in packages alongside the Asian ingredients in the grocery store.) The sea salt adds minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, that are often lost during dehydration, making the broth satisfying on many fronts.
The broth contains dried mushrooms–lots of them–so be sure to note the weights on the containers. (Dried mushrooms are often sold in 1/2 to 1 ounce packages and you need 4 ounces.) The broth can get expensive to make, but I can assure you it’s always appreciated. You can also reuse the mushrooms once and brew a lighter “second broth”. If possible, try to find both shiitake and maitake mushrooms for their immune-boosting health benefits, but if they’re hard to source you can use all shiitakes.
I urge you to take some time this winter (cold and flu season!) and make a batch or two of broth to keep on hand. Divvy it up into quart-size containers and store it in the freezer until needed. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Stay warm and healthy! ~LbR