Shiitake Mushroom, Tofu and Bok Choy Soup

At Michael Pollan’s appearance in Seattle last week, he mentioned one of his well-known Food Rules, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

The intent, of course, is to eliminate highly processed foods that are full of artificial ingredients.  My great-grandmother would not have recognized Go-Gurt, or Pop Tarts, or anything made with carrageenan or guar gum or red dye #40 or “natural and artificial flavors”.

It’s a good rule.  But I started thinking about this soup recipe I’ve wanted to share with you–my Shiitake, Tofu and Bok Choy Soup.  This soup is so simple, clean-flavored, and pure that it feels like spa food.  It would be just the thing for lunch outside under the trees between meditation in the morning and a massage in the afternoon.  It only has a handful of ingredients, but offers a pleasing contrast of textures–smooth, crunchy, chewy.  Plus, it only takes about half an hour to make.

The soup certainly holds to the spirit of Michael Pollan’s food rules.  But when I thought about what my grandmother’s reaction to this soup would be, let alone my great-grandmother, I got a fit of the giggles.  Because while some grandmas would no doubt recognize ingredients like tofu and bok choy, my sweet Midwestern grandma would be completely nonplussed.

I decided that what some of us might need is an extra great-grandma—an Imaginary Granny, just like the imaginary friend named Edna that I palled around with when I was about nine years old.  In fact, I could use an entire council of Imaginary Grannies from all over the world.  With all due respect to my extant grandmother, my first Imaginary Granny is going to be Japanese.  Boy, is Obaasan ever going to come in handy as part of my food conscience advisory council!  And all of the ingredients in this soup are fully recognized and approved by her.



Shiitake Mushroom,Tofu and Bok Choy Soup

  • olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 cups stock (I used turkey stock, but chicken or vegetable would work fine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 bunch bok choy, chopped
  • 7 oz firm tofu, cubed

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté just until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium high, add more oil if needed, and add mushrooms; sauté until lightly browned.  Add garlic, tamari, fish sauce, and stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Add bok choy and tofu.  Simmer gently until bok choy is tender, about 5-10 minutes.

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10 thoughts on “Shiitake Mushroom, Tofu and Bok Choy Soup

  1. Evan

    Mmm, sounds like a yummy soup recipe. I like that it’s imaginary granny approved. Everyone could use an extra granny or two. Glad to have found your blog as well.

    1. The Rowdy Chowgirl Post author

      Thanks, Evan! Hope you have an Italian granny (imaginary or otherwise) to approve your delicious pasta!

  2. Bernard

    Did you mean to include shitake mushrooms twice in the recipe listing? I saw it only once in the directions. BJF

  3. Tom Clifton

    I gave it a try and my Pop and I found it a little bland. I used a low sodium chicken stock figuring that the soy sauce would provide enough salt. The answer to that is no. Pop added salt and said it improved it. I usually try to kick the flavors a bit, in this case doubling the garlic. But it was still weak for my tastes.

    BTW, I tried the sardine and kale pasta and it was great. Though again, I doubled the garlic and sardines.

    1. The Rowdy Chowgirl Post author

      Tom-I tend to like things salty, so I don’t use low-sodium stock. You’re my kind of cook–good for you for taking the recipes and adjusting to make them your own!

  4. Monet

    I love it! I need an imaginary Japanese granny too! I’m sure she would be just as pleased with this soup as I am. This looks and sounds so delicious and packed full of nutrition. Thank you for sharing your soup with me…I hope you have a great Tuesday…I’m already ready for the weekend :-)


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