Shitake mushroom, vegetable & barley soup

Wheat, dairy free: Shitake mushrooms strengthen, detoxify and restore. Renowned as immune boosters with antiviral and antitumour properties, they are rich in vitamin D, B12 and protein. Barley has a wonderfully soluble fibre and is rich in minerals such as magnesium. It strengthens the intestines and blood, benefits the gall bladder and nerves.

Ingredients:

8 dried shitake mushrooms 1/2 cup barley (soaked overnight in 3 cups water with 1 teaspoon yoghurt, whey or buttermilk) 1 x 5 cm piece kombu sea vegetable 15 ml tamari 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 7 - 8 cups stock or water 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 medium onion - finely diced 2 cloves garlic - finely diced/ crushed 2 - 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only pinch dried basil sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 medium size carrots, skins on - finely diced 1/2 medium size orange sweet potato, peeled - finely diced 1 small - medium swede, peeled - finely diced 1 medium or 2 small parsnip - peeled, woody centre removed if very large or old - finely diced 1 stick celery - finely diced Handful of parsley - finely chopped Mirrin - only if required, approx 1 - 2 teaspoons

Method:

Add the crumbled (or roughly broken) mushrooms, drained barley, kombu, tamari, dried thyme and 7 cups stock or water to 24 or 26cm pot. Partly cover and cook over a simmer for 20 mins.

Add the oil, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, dried basil, salt and pepper to a frying pan and cook over a gentle heat for approx 5 - 8 mins, or until only slightly blushed with colour. Add this to the soup together with all the vegetables. Partly cover and cook for 45 mins over a gentle simmer. Check if more liquid is required after this time, then cook for another 15 mins or until the barley is soft. Check for taste - you may need a touch of mirrin (especially if you have no parsnip in the soup). Add the parsley and serve.

MAKING THIS SOUP WITH LAMB / MUTTON SHANKS:

Both barley and lamb are said to enhance Qi, the lifeforce and initiator of all motion and heat. Lamb is also high in B vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin and B12 - all essential for good health. Replace the mushrooms with 2 mutton shanks, and omit the kombu. Addition: 1 teaspoon white wine or apple cider vinegar

Add the shanks to the soup pot and cook over a very, very gentle heat until some of the fat renders out. Add the onion, garlic, fresh thyme, dried basil, salt and pepper to the pot and cook over a very gentle heat for approx 10 mins - do not allow them to brown or burn, but to very lightly colour. Add 7 cups stock, wine, partly cover and cook over a moderate to gentle heat for approx 1 hour. Remove any scum. Add the drained barley and vegetables, partly cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 45 mins. Check if extra liquid is required and cook until the barley is soft, another 10 - 15 mins.

Remove the shanks and cut meat from bone, add this back to the soup and discard the bones. Add parsley, check for taste (salt and pepper) and serve.

NOVA Recipes c/o: www.wholefoodscooking.com.au