Mushroom Consommé with Spring Vegetables

It wasn’t until the mid-nineties that I really started enjoying Japanese flavors in my cooking.  Sushi restaurants began to pop up in the town I was living in and from my first visit I was hooked.  So light and fresh, I could have eaten out for every meal.  Fast forward ten years and I was fortunate enough to visit Morimoto in Philadelphia for an amazing dinner with my husband.  We left inspired and have since made many meals from our Morimoto cookbook.  While traditional Dashi forms the base for many Japanese soups and meals, we were missing the two key ingredients and so made our own version using what we had.  It was more of a consommé, but delicious nonetheless.

We used shiitake mushroom stalks, nori, celery, shallot, parsley stalks, soy sauce, honey, miren, sake and lime.  These ingredients were (in usual fashion at our house), not measured out but just placed in a pan to which we added water.  We brought this to a slow boil and then strained it, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids.  We served this broth with soba noodles and some blanched cut vegetables.

It made a delicious lunch and the broth itself is also great to freeze and pull out for a quick meal.  Because the vegetables used to make the broth are discarded, it is also a great way to use up ends of things like mushroom stalks, celery bottoms and shallot ends.  As it is the flavor you are after and not the looks, ends and stalks are great.  We have been trying super hard to not waste and this is another way to use every bit of what you have.  On cool and rainy spring days like today, it makes the perfect lunch.