Wow. This soup is not only for vegans but for the meat eaters (aka pre-vegans;) in your life as well. Why meat eaters? Well because this soup is rich with umami, the fifth ‘taste’ that makes foods savoury, complex and deeply flavourful. It’s what makes food mouthwatering and satisfying and without it people may describe food as tasting ‘bland’.
It has been theorized that people craving meat and cheese may actually be craving ‘umami’. We taste umami through receptors specific to glutamate and glutamate is widely present in savoury foods such as broths, fermented foods and MSG, a popular ingredient in many restaurant kitchens and processed foods. If you want to add the robust flavours that meat can add to a dish it’s easy to do so with vegan ingredients.
Fermented foods like soy sauce, tamari, vegan worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, miso and kimchi are all umami rich vegan foods.
Ever wonder why ketchup is the number one selling condiment? Ketchup is unique in that it hits every one of the five tastes on the human palate. It’s sweet, salty sour, bitter, and of course rich in umami which comes from the high concentration of tomatoes.
Seaweed, nutritional yeast, toasted nuts and seeds, broth and spices are other good choices as are cooking methods that include roasting, caramelizing, browning and grilling because these processes free the glutamate from the proteins.
And my favourite food for adding umami? Dried shiitakes which I’ve used in this delicious soup!
How do you add umami to your favorite recipes?Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add your oil (or water). Add your chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add your pressed garlic, ginger, shiitakes, Patak’s Mild Curry Paste, and salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Add your broth, water, lentils and barley and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour until lentils and barley are both tender.
Add your chopped spinach and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to wilt. Add pepper to taste. Garnish with green onions if you’d like. Enjoy!!
Adapted from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. “Curried Mushroom Barley Lentil Soup”. Canadian Living, The One Dish Collection.
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- 1 tbsp canola oil (or use water to saute)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 2 cups dried shiitakes, soaked in water for 10 minutes and then drained
- 2 tbsp ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp Patak's Mild Curry Paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained
- ⅔ cup pearl barley
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- pepper to taste
- green onions to garnish (optional)
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add your oil (or water).
- Add your chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add your pressed garlic, ginger, shiitakes, curry paste, and salt and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add your broth, water, lentils and barley and bring it to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour until lentils and barley are both tender.
- Add your chopped spinach and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to wilt.
- Add pepper to taste.
- Garnish with green onions if you'd like!