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Earthy Mushroom Stew: A Rich and Savory Vegetarian Meal

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Earthy mushroom stew

Earthy mushroom stew

Mushrooms at the Market

Serendipity: [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]

Today I found serendipity—or it found me. I was shopping in my local mega-grocery store, and there in the produce section was a large plastic bag of white and cremini mushrooms. Not quite fresh, but not ready for the compost bin, and the produce manager had marked them down to half-price!

So now, my challenge was to create a dinner recipe that would focus on the wonderful taste of mushrooms and not worry quite so much about their appearance. Sure, I could have tossed them into a pot of spaghetti sauce, but I wanted to do something a bit more imaginative.

I had in my files a recipe from Sunset Magazine (October 2006) for "Mushroom Potato Soup with Smoked Paprika." That original recipe called for dried porcinis, pancetta, wine, and chicken stock. A great recipe, but I decided to play with it a bit to turn into a vegetarian meal that my entire family could enjoy. Here's what I did.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

30 min

45 min

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 5 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups russet potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup wide noodles (I used No Yolk egg noodles)
  • 3 cups mushroom broth (see note below)

Instructions

  1. Place the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter. When the butter is melted, toss in the onion; cook about 5 minutes or until soft and beginning to color slightly. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are browned—about 5 minutes more. Stir in paprika and tomato paste. Cook for about 2 minutes to meld flavors and then remove from heat. Set aside.
  2. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Add the diced potatoes; cook for 10 minutes and then remove with a skimmer and set aside. In the same saucepan cook the noodles according to package directions. Remove with the skimmer and set aside.
  3. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the saucepan and set aside.
  4. Place the mushroom broth in the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the reserved potatoes, the noodles, 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, and onion/mushroom mixture. Simmer until heated through—about 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I used creamy portabello broth, but you could use vegetable broth, or (if you aren't worried about creating a vegetarian meal) chicken or beef broth.

Why This Recipe Works

Typically when we think of stew, we imagine an assortment of vegetables and chunks of protein cloaked in a thickened meaty gravy. What can we do in the kitchen to create the sensory taste of meat and still create a vegetarian meal? The key to the puzzle is understanding the science of taste.

There are five distinct tastes that the human tongue recognizes—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

The first four you are probably familiar with:

  • Sweet is a pleasurable sensation produced by sugars.
  • Sourness is the detection of acidity—the most common foods that contain the sour taste are citrus fruits, some melons, and some unripened fruits.
  • Saltiness is mostly from the presence of sodium.
  • A bitter taste is usually deemed unpleasant or disagreeable. Black coffee and unsweetened chocolate fall into this category.

And then there is umami. Umami is a Japanese word for "pleasant savory taste," a meaty taste. There are several natural, non-meat foods that have an umami flavor—tomatoes, mushrooms, soy, potatoes, carrots, and Parmesan cheese.

So, if you create this stew for your family, you will be giving them an uber-umami taste without meat.

© 2011 Linda Lum

Comments

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 01, 2019:

Wow, thanks. I didn't know that about the Shiitake stems. Ya learn something new every day.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2019:

Denise, I'd suggest that you go with 90 percent white or cremini mushrooms and then treat yourself to some dried porcini. They are so very full of flavor that a little goes a long way. Shiitakes could also be used in place of the porcini. Again, they have a unique flavor and might just be the key to making this really POP for you. (If you use shiitake remember to remove and discard the stems).

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 01, 2019:

This is a wonderful recipe. I kind of wish there were places you could still find wild mushrooms, but I live in such an urban community and there is just no alternative but to pay the grocery store prices. *Sigh*

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on September 11, 2019:

Denise, you are finding my oldies but goodies. Would it help if I added abbrevs to myindex of recipes--(v) for vegetarian/vegan?

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 11, 2019:

Sound yummy. I have a few mushrooms in the fridge right now. Maybe I should fire up the stove and make a soup with them. You've inspired me.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 18, 2015:

Kristen Howe - Thank you for taking the time to comment on my Hub. I hope you find the time to try this recipe. Let me know if you like it. Blessings on your day!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 18, 2015:

Hello justthemessenger - Please write back after you've tried this recipe. I would love your feedback. Thanks for stopping by.

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on February 18, 2015:

Mushroom stew sounds good. And, I actually have or can get the ingredients at my local Kroger brand grocery store. I'll try and fix this. Good hub, short and sweet.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 18, 2015:

Great recipe, Carb Diva. I do love mushrooms. I'm going to give it a try sometime soon.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 18, 2015:

Thank you Patsybell. We have it often, especially on these cold winter days. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, SEMO on February 18, 2015:

I came back to get this recipe. To me it is not vegetarian, it is just good mushroom soup and very creative. I love that you just seized an opportunity and made a great meal.

Thank you.^+

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 24, 2015:

Joyfulcrown I hope that you enjoy this. I made it again last week, and in place of noodles I used the broken pieces of lasagna that always seem to be at the bottom of the package. Thanks for stopping by.

Joyfulcrown on January 24, 2015:

I can't wait to try this. I love mushrooms. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 03, 2015:

Thelma Alberts - Happy New Year to you as well. So glad to know that you enjoyed this.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on January 03, 2015:

Yummy! This is a delicious soup. I love mushrooms. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Happy New Year!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 03, 2015:

Hello vocalcoach. I love stews and soups, especially when the weather is cold, as it is now. I am glad you found me and hope you enjoy this recipe. After you're tried it would love to hear back from you.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on January 03, 2015:

Mushrooms are both nutritious and tasty so I will be trying your recipe for stew very soon. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 03, 2015:

BWD316 I hope that you enjoy this. Thank you for stopping by.

Brian Dooling from Connecticut on January 03, 2015:

I have a new love for mushrooms lately and this looks like a perfect soup recipe to try! Love that it's vegetarian too!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 03, 2015:

peachpurple I love the simplicity of soups--everything simmering in one pot. And I love the way it makes the whole house smell warm and loving. Please let me know if you try this recipe. I'd love to get your feedback.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 03, 2015:

I love warm soups that perks me up at night

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 02, 2015:

Hello AudreyHowitt. I am so glad that you visited my hub. This is comfort food for a cold winter day. I hope you take the time to try my recipe and, if so, please write again.

Audrey Howitt from California on January 02, 2015:

This sounds wonderful and right up my alley!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 09, 2014:

Thank you Susan Recipes. I hope you enjoy it.

Susan from India on December 09, 2014:

Wow.. This stew looks so delicious. I am going to try this soon. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 22, 2014:

Thank you Patsybell. Your opinion means a lot to me.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, SEMO on November 22, 2014:

My family will love this, if I don't say the word vegetarian. For us, it will be just mushroom soup or stew. Voted up, pinned.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 21, 2014:

Hi YogaKat - Smoked paprika can be found in the spice section of your grocery store. It has a smoky aroma and flavor. I hope you enjoy this dish. After you cook it, please write back.

YogaKat from Oahu Hawaii on November 21, 2014:

I am a mushroom lover. Potatoes and noodles will make this soup hearty. I'm looking forward to cooking this up, though I must say I have never heard of smoked paprika before. I assume it is the spice section of the grocery store . . . I'm sure it adds color . . . but does it taste like regular paprika?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 30, 2014:

vespawoolf thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you liked it.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on April 26, 2014:

Wow, what a delicious recipe! How nice you were able to get the cremini mushrooms at half price. We would have to use another variety here in Peru, but I definitely want to try this. Mushrooms definitely have umami flavor...thank you for sharing!

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, SEMO on November 09, 2013:

Voted up and useful. Sounds so inviting on this wintery day.

I can't wait to try this recipe. I like your style. Probably wouldn't have given the original recipe a look. But I'll be looking for mushrooms and will make Your recipe.

lady rain from Australia on August 15, 2011:

I love any dish that has mushrooms in it. They are awesome. Gotta try this recipe.

danielleantosz from Florida on August 15, 2011:

This sounds delicious!