Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Miso Soup

Miso soup is one of my favorite "go-to" soups during the winter.  It is my vegetarian version of the healing, comforting chicken noodle soup.  It is a soup that is pretty simple in taste but does wonders for digestion. It is my soup that I make up when we are sick with a cold or flu or have upset stomaches.  It really is a comfort food.  Simple. Easy. Healing.

We aren't big soy fans around here but I do use tofu from time to time and I do like miso.  When buying miso it is important to buy naturally fermented miso.  Even amongst many nutrition gurus that are anti-soy, most will say that fermented soy is different and has healing properties.  Now I still use this in moderation, as my tub of miso will sit in my fridge for a rather long period of time, buy hey it's already fermented so I figure I am just adding to the process, right??  By being naturally fermented the miso contains live enzymes that aid in the digestive process and provide healthy probiotics, which is what makes it so beneficial when given to someone that is sick.  It is easy to digest and doesn't have a strong flavor.

Miso itself has a salty and slightly sweet taste.  Miso is made from a variety of beans and/or grains and because of that there are different types and shades of miso.  The rule of thumb is, the ligther the color the lighter and sweeter the taste.

The other thing I love about this soup is that it contains sea vegetables.  I went through a season years ago where I was determined to like seafood.  I tried and tried but every time I tried I was throughly repulsed and just couldn't get past the texture and taste.  I finally gave up my quest and realized I just don't like seafood. Period. Well as I have studied nutrition I continue to stumble across research on sea vegetables and all of the health benefits of including them in a whole foods diet.  So a few years ago I began another quest.  I was going to eat sea vegetables! Well wouldn't you know, I can't choke these down either.  I can smell them a mile away and it makes me cringe. Alas I don't like sea veggies either and that's ok. BUT I love miso soup and miso soup recipes call for a sea vegetable of some kind, so I have found a little trick.  I use a strip of kombu while it's boiling to at least get some of the benefits of the sea vegetables and then when the soup is finished I take the strip out and toss it.  So if you find yourself cringing at the thought of sea vegetables there is a little trick to help you out! For the seafood and sea vegetable lovers out there, just follow the recipe.  :)

Miso Soup
(adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, "The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook")

5 1/2 cups water
2 TBS Chopped Wakame or 1 strip of Kombu (that you can later toss!)
2 Carrots thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped kale, spinach, beet greens, swiss chard, etc...very finely cut or chopped
1/2 cup uncooked pasta (traditionally it is noodles but I use whatever I have on hand and it's great)
8 ounces of tofu, diced
2 TBS Miso Paste
***Optional***1 TBS Parsley
(Parsley aides in digestion and quite honestly it covers up any Kombu taste but is not a traditional part of Miso Soup!)

Place water and sea vegetable in medium-size pan.  Cover and bring to boil over high heat.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in miso. 

 Enjoy! Hope it helps if you find yourself or your little ones recovering from a cold, flu, or upset tummy!

***I sometimes will add thinly chopped celery as well just for something different. 

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