Inspired by the simple yet satisfying soups common in Japanese cuisine, this recipe uses some of our homemade pancetta for an untraditional but appetizing twist.
What to buy: Dried shiitake mushrooms are available in most gourmet grocery stores. If you can’t find them, go ahead and substitute any combination of dried cremini, porcini, or oyster mushrooms.
Sake can be found at most gourmet grocery stores and high-end liquor stores. A dry sake is best here, but you can substitute mirin (rice wine) if you can’t locate sake. However the soup will be slightly sweeter than intended.
If you can’t find pancetta, you can substitute good-quality bacon. Or leave it out, add more mushrooms and a bit of soy, and make it vegetarian!
Look for sesame oil and chile-garlic sauce in the Asian section of your supermarket. We prefer chile-garlic sauce made by Huy Fong Foods (it’s got a rooster on the jar!).
Game plan: For a slacker solution, chop up fresh mushrooms and soak them in the broth-and-sake mixture, but be aware that the flavor won’t be as complex as when using dried mushrooms.
This recipe was featured as part of our How to Make Pancetta story.
- 1Combine mushrooms, 1 cup of the vegetable broth, and sake in a medium bowl and set aside for 30 minutes until mushrooms are reconstituted.
- 2Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and cook pancetta until golden brown and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- 3Combine remaining 3 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups water in a medium pot over medium heat. Once simmering, add mushroom mixture (liquid too), pancetta, and spinach. Stir in sesame oil and chile-garlic sauce and adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with scallions and serve.
Beverage pairing: A good food-and-wine-pairing rule of thumb is the more complex the dish, the simpler the wine. Such is the case with this savory, spicy, nuanced soup. A very light (almost rose-colored) red served with a slight chill would be a great choice here. Try a Schiava from northern Italy, such as the Tiefenbrunner Schiava.