It’s that time of year where colds and coughs persistently plague us. At such a time as this, nothing is as soothing and healing as a steaming hot bowl of miso soup. Our kids know that’s what we crave when our bodies get out of whack and they tease us that it’s our cure for everything! In spite of all their teasing, miso soup is a regular guest at their kitchen table too, especially when they feel a cold coming on.
I realize miso isn’t a common American food staple found in most kitchens. People are reluctant to pay for a tub of miso that may sit in the back of their refrigerator for a decade. Once we learned of the many health benefits of this Japanese condiment, we have come to enjoy miso soup on a regular basis.
Miso is made from soybeans, sea salt, and koji, and often mixed with rice, barley or other grains. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 3 months to 3 years, which produces an enzyme rich food. It has a binding agent that is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements that are taken into the body through industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.
Miso has been a staple in Chinese and Japanese diets dating back approximately 2,500 years. Today, most of the Japanese population begins their day with a warm bowl of miso soup. They believe it stimulates digestion and energizes the body. When shopping for miso avoid the pasteurized version and spend your money on the live enzyme rich product, which is also loaded with beneficial microorganisms.
When you cook with miso use just enough to enhance flavor and avoid overpowering the dish with a strong salty taste. For soup, I always add it at the end and never boil miso as boiling destroys it’s active live enzymes.
About the edible seaweed wakame; Wakame seaweed is a good source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, E, K, folate and soluble/insoluble fibre, and has among the very highest nutrient-to-calorie ratios (from a vegetarian source) of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid (EPA). The salty taste is not just salt but a balanced combination of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and trace minerals.
In case you’re interested, here are some scientifically proven facts about miso:
* Contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
* Stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids in the stomach.
* Restores beneficial probiotics to the intestines.
* Aids in the digestion and assimilation of other foods in the intestines.
* Is a good vegetable-quality source of B vitamins (especially B12).
* Strengthens the quality of blood and lymph fluid.
* Reduces risk for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.
* Strengthens the immune system and helps to lower LDL cholesterol.
* High in antioxidants that protects against free radicals.
So, after all that info let’s get on with it and make a pot of miso soup! I make a large enough batch to last a few days. We reheat it daily (being careful not to boil) and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame oil
1 medium onion sliced thin
1 tablespoon wakame seaweed flakes soaked in water to cover for 10 minutes
2 carrots sliced thin and cut julienne
8 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup mugi (barley) miso
Heat your soup pan for a minute or two on a low to medium flame before adding the oil. This allows you to use less oil, while the pan is hot, it spreads the oil quickly. When you add the onions they should sizzle.
Saute the onions until translucent, then add the carrots and continue to sauté until the carrots smell sweet about 4 minutes. Add water, salt and soaked wakame and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover pot and cook 30 minutes.
Turning the stove off, and using a fine mesh colander with a handle, place it over the pot of soup with the “bowl” part of the colander dipping partly into the soup. Place 1/2 cup miso in the colander and using a spoon, dissolve the miso into the soup. Do a taste test and add more miso as desired. Never boil miso…this destroys it’s helpful enzymes.
You can purchase wakame and miso at your local natural foods market or from Azure Standard www.azurestandard.com.
- Eliminate sautéing and bring water to a boil adding veggies
- Eliminate wakame
- Use any variety of veggies
- Add tofu the last 10 minutes of cooking
- Add cooked noodles
Soup’s On !