Ginger and roasted shiitake mushrooms add warming autumn influences and an Asian slant to a simple zucchini soup. Use only the caps of the shiitake mushrooms–the stems are too fibrous; reserve them for stocks. To gently melt the coconut oil without a microwave, put 2 tablespoons into a small jar and immerse in a bowl of hot water.
Serves 4 to 6
* 1 to 2 tablespoon sesame oil
* 1 small yellow onion, chopped small
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger root
* 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
* 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
* 4 cups homemade or high-quality vegetable or chicken stock
* 2 pounds zucchini, chopped small
* 1 cup fresh, blanced green peas or frozen green peas, thawed
* 2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
* 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
* 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
* Cayenne pepper to taste
* Fresh minced chives for garnish
1. Heat sesame oil in a 3-quart pot over medium-low heat. Saute onion for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened and golden. Add ginger, garlic and spices, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
2. Add stock and zucchini; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for 15 minutes, until zucchini is soft and liquid is slightly reduced. Add peas and cook for 5 minutes longer, until peas are warmed through.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange mushrooms in a small pile on a baking sheet and pour oil over. Toss with your hands to mix, then spread in a single layer (use a big enough pan to avoid overlapping mushrooms; if they’re crowded, they’ll steam instead of getting crispy). Sprinkle paprika evenly over mushrooms, then roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crispy.
4. When soup is done cooking, transfer to a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding cayenne pepper to taste.
5. Divide soup between four individual bowls. Sprinkle tops of each bowl with roasted shiitakes, garnish with chive, and serve hot.