Sun | May 26, 2024
40 days of Lent


Published:Thursday | February 29, 2024 | 12:07 AM
This image released by Milk Street shows a miso, shiitake mushroom and kimchi soup.
This image released by Milk Street shows a miso, shiitake mushroom and kimchi soup.

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

It’s a common misconception that the best soups require long ingredient lists and hours of simmering. In fact, just a handful of high-flavour items can be transformed into an umami-bomb of a soup in just 45 minutes. In this recipe from the book Cook What You Have, we get the job done thanks to just a few high-impact Asian pantry staples. The soup has three sources of umami – mushrooms, miso and kimchi. Dried shiitake mushrooms contribute to the soup in two ways. Rehydrating them in hot water renders them soft and supple while infusing the soaking water with flavour. We slice and sauté the mushroom caps until browned, along with fresh ginger and garlic. We also mix the mushroom-infused water with store-bought chicken or vegetable broth to give it a deep, earthy note.

Meanwhile, white miso adds gentle richness and a mellow, nutty sweetness, and kimchi brings a funkier fermented flavour, sharp acidity and a gentle heat.

Be sure to scrape up any browned bits when you add the broth to the mushrooms – browning equals flavour, and you don’t want to leave any stuck to the pan. Use low-sodium broth, as miso and kimchi can be quite salty.

Finish with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, and garnish with freshly sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds.


– 1 ounce (12 to 14 medium) dried shiitake mushrooms

– 2 cups boiling water

– 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

– 1 medium garlic clove, minced

– 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

– 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth OR vegetable broth

– ¼ cup white miso

– 1 cup cabbage kimchi, roughly chopped

– 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

– Toasted sesame oil, to serve


1. In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms and boiling water. Cover and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes until the mushrooms are fully hydrated. Remove the mushrooms; reserve the water. Trim off and discard the mushroom stems and thinly slice the caps.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the broth, the mushroom liquid and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer for about 30 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Then cover, reduce to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso and ¼ cup of the hot broth until the miso is dissolved. Stir the miso mixture and kimchi into the broth. Return the soup to a simmer over medium-high, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat. Serve sprinkled with the scallions and drizzled with sesame oil.

4. Optional garnish: Soft- or hard-cooked eggs, halved OR toasted sesame seeds OR both.