As the days are becoming cooler my appetite for hearty soups increases.

Soups can easily be a source of hidden calories in the form of rib sticking carbs or lashings of cream so I’m always seeking out the healthier option. My Miso Mushroom Soup both delicious and low calorie.

And to boot it’s so easy to make. The key ingredients really are the instant stocks and if you can add some dried porcini (Italian) or cep (French) mushrooms you boost the flavour level.

I have mentioned in a previous post that I always buy packets of Porcini Stock Cubes when I visit Italy. When we were in Tuscany last year the local supermarket in our village must have thought that we had a serious addiction as our party cleared the shelves every time we shopped! Yes, while other girls buy shoes, I buy my favourite food ingredients!

Locally I have only found Mushroom stocks at Woolies. I either use the Tetrapack of Mushroom stock or buy a pack of the Mushroom concentrate sachets.

I also boost the flavour using Ina Paarman’s Vegetable stock. Either the powder or the concentrated sachet is good. There are other good Brands available, such as Nomu, but I have not tried them, but my ‘foodie friends’ have commented that they are good.

My fridge always has a container of Miso paste. This Asian fermented soya bean paste is perfect for boosting the flavour of soups and sauces.  It marries perfectly with mushrooms. Most food stores stock it now, but if you can’t find it pop into an Asian specialty store. It is said to be packed with vitamins and it vital for ‘gut health’!

This recipe calls for fresh, brown mushrooms. I like the flavour of brown mushrooms, but if you have a selection including shitake, use them. I also like boosting the soup flavour with a handful of dried porcini (Italian) or cep (French) or Boletus Edulis. You find limited volumes of fresh porcini when the first winter rains fall in the Cape, but these fungi are so delicious simply sautéed in butter I cannot put them into a soup! If you really want to you can do so! In Italy you find trays of this delicacy in the markets.

Other than the small volume of butter used to start this recipe, it is really very low calorie. I suggest that you enrich it with a few tablespoon of yoghurt when serving. You can omit it and choose between double cream or fat free. Vegetarians or vegans can substitute the butter with vegetable oil and omit the yoghurt, or use a soya or nut alternative. And if you are not fanatical about calories simply add lashings of cream!

This soup is virtually calorie free and therefore you can happily sit at the fireside with a huge satisfying bowl!

Recipe: Mushroom Miso Soup