Cooks in Asia serve hot pots communally, setting a big pot of bubbling broth on the table alongside a platter of raw ingredients (like vegetables and thinly sliced chicken) for dipping. It's a fun way for guests to feel like they have a hand in making their own meal. In his version, Ethan Stowell gives each person at the table an individual bowl of sliced mushrooms, tofu and scallions, then adds piping hot chicken broth loaded with chunks of tender cooked chicken.
Michel Bras purees this lush mushroom soup with bread toasted to a dark brown to thicken the texture and deepen its flavor. He learned the trick from his mother growing up in the Aubrac mountains, one of France's poorest regions. "I used to mix bread crumbs with sugar for a little treat," Bras says. "We were happy with very little."
Grace Parisi created this recipe almost by accident. When she was cooking dinner for her kids, one of them knocked into her while she was adding a few tablespoons of chicken broth to a pan of sautéed mushrooms. She poured in a lot more broth than she intended to and ended up with a terrific mushroom soup.
Meaty portobellos are especially good for adding substance and flavor to this soup, but shiitakes or other mushrooms will work well, too. You can also add a ham hock to the pot while the split peas cook, if you like.
Grace Parisi has always been a fan of mushroom barley soup with beef that has been simmered until succulent. For a clever shortcut that still delivers deep flavor, she replaces the beef with meatballs made from a quick mix of sirloin, egg, bread crumbs and cheese.
Shiitake-and-Swiss-Chard Soup with Hand-Cut Noodles
David Chang flavors this fabulous broth with dried shiitakes; fresh shiitakes intensify the flavor. The highlight: simple noodles thrown in at the end. "They're based on the udon I learned to make in Tokyo," Chang says.