Five-Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale

Five-Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale by

Growing up, there was always a steaming bowl of Chinese-style soup on the dinner table every night to go along with all the other dishes my mom would cook.  She would simmer a big pot of soup all afternoon with seasonal ingredients, and herbs & spices like star anise, dried tangerine peel, fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, goji berries, gingko nuts, lotus seeds, red dates, and so on.  That was her way of nourishing the family to keep us healthy. 

I miss her soups. I try to recreate many of them, but don’t always have all the ingredients (or have all afternoon!).  Over the years, I’ve learned to adjust her recipes to work with local ingredients, and to shorten the cooking time for when I get home late. 

One example is this Five-Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale.  While the ingredients are some of my more recent favorites, the flavor of the soup is influenced by all those herbal soups that my mom cooked up daily.

Five-Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale recipe by

Our handcrafted Penang Chinese Five Spice forms the base flavor to the soup.  It includes many of the warming spices my mom would extract in her soups like nutmeg, star anise and cinnamon.

For the broth, I like to add in beef broth for a heartier flavor, but feel free to use mushroom broth for a vegetarian version.  To add even more richness to the broth, I simmer a mix of mushrooms – in this case, cremini and shiitake.

Penang Chinese Five Spice powder from

shiitake mushrooms for chinese soup recipe

Having homemade herbal soup as just a side dish to a larger meal only happens these days when I visit home.  When I have less than an hour to cook after work, I always turn the soup into the main course. 

If I have some pre-cooked quinoa in the refrigerator (I like to cook up a big batch on Sunday nights to use during the week), I add that right into the soup to make it a meal. I also sometimes add in shredded chicken or tofu to give the soup some extra protein. 

When the Five-Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale is all done, finish it with a few drops of toasted sesame oil and a generous dash of freshly ground black pepper.

It’s a tasty, nourishing, modern Asian-style soup that you can enjoy at home this fall and winter.

Five Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale recipe by

Five-Spice Quinoa Soup with Mushrooms & Kale
by Season with Spice
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp oil 1 yellow onion – diced
2 garlic cloves – minced
14oz cremini mushrooms – sliced
6-8oz fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms* – sliced
2 tsp of Season with Spice’s Penang Chinese Five Spice
2 tsp soy sauce or tamari (or Worcestershire sauce)
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or mirin (optional)
3 cups low sodium mushroom broth or beef broth
2 cups water
1 tsp salt (I used Himalayan Pink Salt)
2 carrots – sliced into ribbons
3 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups of sliced kale
A few drops of toasted sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot or deep skillet, then add in onion and cook for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add in garlic and cook for about a minute until aromatic.
2. Add in the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the moisture of the mushrooms begin to evaporate. Add in the Penang Chinese Five Spice, soy sauce/tamari, and rice wine (if using). Stir well to combine.
3. Add in the mushroom broth (or beef broth), water, salt, and carrots. Bring it to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Add in the kale, cooked quinoa, and toasted sesame oil. Stir until warmed through. Taste, and adjust seasonings or liquid to your liking. Ladle into each serving bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy!

*If using dried shiitake mushrooms, give them a quick rinse, then soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes until softened. You can also use the water for stock later.
 - In addition to cremini and shiitake mushrooms, you can also try adding in oyster mushrooms or Japanese shimeji mushrooms.
 - I highly recommend using beef broth for the soup since it gives the soup a much deeper flavor. But mushroom broth is a good alternative to make this a vegetarian dish.
 - If you happen to have some goji berries on hand, throw some in during the last stage of cooking. The berries are wonderful in Asian soups like this!
 - The soup keeps well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.