Make Ahead

Practically Cleansing Mushroom Soup

December 28, 2011
Author Notes

I've been practicing yoga regularly for about 15 years, and a few years ago, one of my teachers got involved in cleansing for the new year. For a week you drink water with lemon, cayenne and clove, make fresh juice, and eat from a specific list of fruits and vegetables, grains (quinoa and millet only), and nuts (almonds and walnuts only)--all while taking herbs that are supposed to cleanse your body of toxins.

I fell for it. Caffeine withdrawal, hunger, drinking vile liquids while my husband is having a glass of wine and laughing at me. (And since you can only have the grains and nuts for the first two days and the last day, I was hungry. Really hungry.) While everyone in my yoga classes who "cleansed" at the same time were rhapsodizing about their clear skin, their weight loss, their feeling light and free, I was miserable. The day it ended (I am not a quitter!), I met two friends for lunch at my favorite Greek restaurant and proceeded to devour everything on the menu.

Still, after 6 weeks of indulgent eating and drinking, it's nice to start the new year with food that's light, healthy and delicious.

Like most of my recipes, this one is not bossy. I'll tell you what I did; you can adjust it to your taste. For example, I used chicken stock. Vegetarians can use vegetable stock, but try to avoid those that are really tomato-y or it will overpower the taste of the mushrooms. I used red wine--you can leave it out, change it to sherry or white wine. I used thyme; maybe you'd prefer a bay leaf or two. I chopped up some parsley--feel free to add any greens you like.


  • Serves 6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into one inch pieces
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped into one inch pieces
  • 1 sweet onion, cleaned and chopped into one inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth (vegetable broth that you make from mushrooms is particularly great here)
  • 1/2 cup fruity red wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked brown rice
In This Recipe
  1. Cook the rice and keep it warm. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat till shimmering. Add onions and leeks with the salt, stirring until they soften but don't brown. Add mushrooms and garlic, stirring till mushrooms soften and start to give off their liquid.
  2. Pour in chicken broth and red wine, stir in, and scrape up any brown bits that have formed. Add thyme and stir in. Reduce heat and cover. Let soup simmer for 20 minutes or so.
  3. Just before serving, taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Stir in parsley. Put a scoop of brown rice in a bowl and pour soup over it.

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