Mushrooms are a diverse and intriguing group of fungi found in the natural world. They come in different shapes and sizes, with delicate caps and intricate networks beneath the ground. Thriving in various ecosystems across Australia, these mushrooms serve important roles as decomposers and partners in symbiotic relationships. They contribute to the balance and beauty of our planet with their nutritional value, medicinal properties, and captivating forms.

One of the vital roles mushrooms play is as decomposers in ecosystems. They have the special ability to break down organic matter like fallen leaves, dead plants, and wood. This breakdown process is called decomposition or decay. By breaking down these materials, mushrooms help turn them into simpler compounds. This allows the nutrients locked within them to be released back into the soil, supporting the growth of other organisms.

Mushrooms also form beneficial partnerships with plants. They create symbiotic relationships called mycorrhizae, where they exchange nutrients with the roots of plants. The mushrooms assist plants in accessing water and nutrients, while the plants provide the mushrooms with sugars and carbohydrates. This collaboration enhances the ability of plants to take up nutrients, especially in soils that lack sufficient nutrients.

Overall, mushrooms are important decomposers that contribute to the recycling of nutrients, the enrichment of soils, and the overall balance of ecosystems. They have a fascinating role in breaking down organic matter and aiding in the growth of plants. Their presence adds to the charm and harmony of our natural world in Australia.

Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup Recipe:

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 oz (28g) dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 16 oz fresh mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster, maitake)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter (or more olive oil)
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup (120 mL) dry white wine
  • Bouquet garni: 1 large sprig rosemary, 2 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups (720 mL) vegetable broth (or 4 cups without mushroom stock)
  • ½ cup (70g) raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste (or red miso for stronger flavor)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • Fresh chives and/or parsley, chopped


1. Optional - Soak dried mushrooms in water for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock.

2. Slice fresh mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a pot and sauté onions and garlic.

3. Add butter, fresh mushrooms, and rehydrated dried mushrooms. Cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Pour in white wine and simmer until alcohol smell dissipates.

5. If using, add mushroom stock, vegetable broth, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Blend 2 ½ cups of soup with cashews, miso, and soy sauce until smooth.

7. Stir the blended soup back into the pot. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Add Dijon mustard if desired. Remove bouquet garni.

8. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with chopped parsley/chives.