The secret to a deeply flavorful vegetarian soup: Dried porcini mushrooms

  • Chickpea, Chard and Porcini Soup.

    Chickpea, Chard and Porcini Soup. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

 
By Joe Yonan
The Washington Post
Updated 10/9/2019 6:25 AM

Dried mushrooms are a cook's friend. They can hang out in your pantry, undisturbed, for an eternity, and then when you're ready to bring them out to play, they do so with such power and energy the only downside is you feel guilty for not inviting them to the party earlier.

For a plant-based cook, their appeal is even stronger, because they add the kind of depth and umami to your cooking that you may have thought was possible only through the use of low-and-slow-cooked meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In this soup recipe, dried porcini transform a simple combination of chickpeas, Swiss chard and aromatic vegetables. You soak them in hot water, strain them (they can also add grit if you don't) and use the soaking liquid as a mushroom stock -- better than anything you can buy by the carton, trust me. You chop the rehydrated mushrooms and add them, too.

Then the only issue is your patience: The soup is so flavorful, you may have to remind yourself that, rather than gulping it down, you should slow your pace and savor it. When you've finished, be sure you have more dried mushrooms in your pantry for the next time the craving hits.

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