Shiitake Broth with Sesame Toast
This is a lovely light soup without too many calories made with Japanese miso stock and dried shiitake mushrooms, which have a strong flavour, but just the fresh shiitake mushrooms can be used, if you prefer.
This recipe is from The Delia Collection: Soup. Serves 6
First of all, rinse the dried shiitake mushrooms in a sieve under cold running water, then place them in a heatproof bowl and put 1 pint (570 ml) of the hot miso stock over them. Then just leave them to soak and soften for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop the fresh shiitake and open-cap mushrooms. When the dried mushrooms have had their soaking time, line a sieve with a double layer of kitchen paper, place it over a bowl and strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Squeeze them to remove any excess liquid, then chop them fairly finely. Now heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the chopped onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes or until softened. Next, add the fresh and the strained dried mushrooms, stir them around in the oil and cook for a minute or two. Then pour in the mushroom soaking liquid and the rest of the miso stock and bring to simmering point. Sprinkle in the rice, stirring occasionally, to prevent the rice from sticking. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the rice is just tender.
Meanwhile, you can start to make the sesame toast. Pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Then toast the slices of bread on one side only. Now butter them on the untoasted side, right up to the edges, and sprinkle a tablespoonful of sesame seeds over each slice to cover as evenly as possible, pressing the seeds down so they will stay in position. Towards the end of the soup's cooking time, in a small basin, blend the arrowroot (which will thicken the soup) with 2 dessertspoons of cold water until smooth.
Then, when the soup is ready, add the blended arrowroot, together with three-quarters of the finely chopped spring onions and, stirring continuously, bring back to simmering point and simmer for 1 minute. Season to taste. To finish making the toast, return the bread to the grill. Toast the sesame-encrusted side until the seeds are lightly toasted and the bread itself goes golden brown. Then cut each slice into four squares and eat straightaway with the piping hot soup, garnished with the remaining spring onions.