Matsutake Soup (松茸お吸い物) is a classic Japanese autumn soup with highly-prized fragrant matsutake mushrooms in clear dashi broth. This type of soup does not have miso paste, and is called Suimono or Osuimono – “food you can sip”.
What is Matsutake Mushroom
If you not familiar with Matsutake mushroom, it’s a aromatic mushroom found near specific species of pine tree. In Japanese, matsu (松) means pine and take (茸) means mushroom. It has a very distinct taste and smell like no other food. Imagine a mushroom with extremely concentrated smell of pine wood. There are many ways to prepare this savory mushroom; it can be enjoyed by itself simply grilling, or used to infused other dish like rice or chawanmushi.
In Japan, due to an issue with a pine roundworm the production has decreased over the past few decades. However it’s also grown in other parts of the world and the ones I buy from the local market are from the US (Oregon/Washington areas).
Alternatives to Matsutake Mushroom
For this recipe, if you cannot find them locally, you can substitute with other kind of mushrooms. You can also experiment with other ingredients you think that’ll work for a clear delicate soup. My recommendation is to choose ingredients that are rather simple flavor as they can’t overpower the subtle yet rich flavor of dashi broth. Try to combine a nice selection of colors and shapes.
Speaking of dashi, you can use convenient dashi powder instead of making the dash soup base from scratch to save time. But for a simple dish like this where seasonings are minimal, good broth made from scratch will make a huge difference for the resulting flavor. For this simple homemade dashi recipe, I cut down some extra (but more detailed) steps from my original dashi recipe. All you need is kombu and katsuobushi, and they are available at most Asian supermarkets and not necessarily just in Japanese supermarkets.
Looking at the image above, you might wonder about those cute little pink balls in the soup. They are called Temari Fu (手まり麩). Fu (麩) or Ofu (お麩) is wheat gluten and it’s made from gluten and it’s often used as meat substitutes (read more details here). Temari is a traditional Japanese ball made by kimono scraps (see the photo below). I included these balls to add nice accent to the color of the soup. I brought these back from my Japan trip, and unfortunately this type of fu is hard to find outside of Japan.
Aren’t they beautiful? You can try making these gorgeous Temari Sushi!
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- 1 (1.1 oz, 31 g) matsutake mushroom*
- 5.1 oz (145 g, 3” x 1.5”) silken tofu
- 4 Temari Fu (wheat gluten) (optional)
- 4 stalks mitsuba, or scallion/green onion
- Yuzu zest, if available
- 2 cups water
- 0.2 oz (5 g, 3” x 3”) kombu
- 0.4 oz (10 g, 1 handful) katsuobushi
- Clean the matsutake mushroom with damp paper towel. NEVER wash the mushroom. Shave off a thin sliver of the mushroom stem as if you are sharping a pencil with knife. Cut into thin slices.
- Tie 2 mitsuba’s stalks into a knot. If you use scallion, finely slice it.
- Gently clean the dashi kombu with a damp cloth but leave the white powdery substances which contribute to the umami flavor in dashi. Do not wash the kombu.
- In a medium pot, put the kombu in the water. Heat up slowly on medium low heat. If you have time, soak for 3 hours or up to half day ahead of time. Kombu’s flavor comes out naturally from soaking in water.
- When boiling, add the katsuobushi. Simmer for just 30 seconds and turn off the heat.
- Strain the dashi through a sieve lined with a paper towel set over a bowl. Gently twist and squeeze the paper towel to release the extra dashi into the bowl.
- Transfer the dashi to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the seasonings.
- Cut tofu into small cubes and add to the soup. Then add sliced matsutake mushrooms and cook until ingredients are heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
- Soak temari fu in water to hydrate. When temari fu is soft, squeeze water out and place it in a serving bowl.
- Add mitsuba in the soup right before serving. Serve the soup into bowls.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.