Meera Sodha’s Vegan Recipe for Braised Mushroom Celery Soup | vegan food and drink

Congee is one of my favorite “it’s going to be okay” dishes. For me, it has the same grounding power as a cup of tea or a bath at the perfect temperature after a long day. It’s smooth for both cooking and eating when abrasive or more interesting flavors just don’t feel right, and it’s also light, stable, and customizable beyond infinity. For all these reasons, it’s my first recipe for 2023. Even if you don’t need it now, treat it more like a tool you can use when you need it.

Celery congee with braised mushrooms

I created this recipe to use a whole head of celery (most of it goes on the bottom and the rest in a pickle) and the mushrooms, which are soaked to make a stock, then used in a quick stew, so there’s no waste If you want to keep the recipe and flavors simple, leave out the pickle or stew and top the congee with other vegetables or condiments you have in the fridge.

Homework 10 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
It serves 4

500 g head of celerywithout base (420g)
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
6 tablespoons of mirin
25g dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons (30g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 brown onion
peeled and finely chopped
2 spring onionsthinly sliced, light and green separated
5 garlic clovespeeled and finely chopped
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2cm x 2cm knob fresh ginger
peeled and grated
150 g jasmine rice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
Store-bought fried onions
to finish (optional)

First prepare the pickle. Thinly slice one third of the celery, put it in a small bowl with the rice vinegar and two tablespoons of mirin, stir and set aside. Chop the remaining celery stalks into small ½ cm dice and set aside.

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Put the mushrooms in a heatproof measuring jug, pour in 750ml of freshly boiled water and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients. When the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, drain the water and set them aside. Carefully and slowly pour the mushroom broth into another jug, leaving some sand in the bottom of the first jug, then add the miso and two tablespoons of mirin.

Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and, when hot, add the onion, white chives, garlic and salt, and cook, stirring so as not to brown, for four minutes. Add the chopped celery and ginger, fry for five minutes, stirring again, add the rice, the mushroom broth and another 600 ml of water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any dross, if desired, then put on a lid, cock, and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the congee is simmering, prepare the braised mushrooms. Slice the soaked and drained mushrooms, then place in a small saucepan with the light and dark soy sauces and the remaining 2 tablespoons of mirin. Bring to a slow simmer, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the liquid glazes the mushrooms and there is no liquid in the bottom of the pan.

Serve the congee in individual bowls, layer over a quarter of the braised mushrooms, some pickled celery, the reserved green scallions, and fried onions, if using, and serve hot.

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