If there were one super simple thing you could do for your health, what would it be? Miso Soup! And making it the healthy way (NOT instant miso soup) is as easy as brewing tea.
Miso soup has a very centering and replenishing effect. Try it any time of day and see how it impacts the way you think and feel.
I like it best with dinner since it make me feel nourished, calmed and restored. After a long day, miso soup trumps a glass of wine because it restocks the calming nutrients you used up during the day, such as Magnesium, whereas alcohol will deplete those nutrients even further. Not only do I sleep better, but I also wake up more easily because the soup’s nutrients allow the body to detoxify more efficiently. Others prefer miso soup for breakfast, like the Japanese Okinawans, because it can establish a strong sense of stamina and groundedness.
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2-3 teaspoons organic miso paste
- 2-3 square inch piece of kombu
- 1/4 cup bonito flakes
These ingredients are for a standard miso soup recipe, but you can add miso paste and dashi (see below) to anything: puréed vegetables, stews, sauces, dips, etc. Miso is a great salt substitute and adds a delicious “umami” flavor.
Miso paste is produced by fermenting soybeans – a process that creates a beautiful colony of beneficial microbes and neutralizes many of soy’s naturally-occuring toxins and anti-nutrients, while preserving its many nutrients. Although traditionally included, I do not add tofu because it’s not fermented. If you don’t want soy, choose garbanzo or aduki bean miso pastes.
For this soup, I prefer the light, mild miso paste. Dark miso has a stronger flavor and pairs well with red meat. Do not buy cheap, inorganic miso (often used in Japanese restaurants) because it contains no beneficial bacteria and uses genetically-modified soy. My favorite brand is South River, but Miso Master and Westbrae Natural are great too.
Kombu and wakame are sea vegetables used in miso soup. They contain a wonderful source of minerals that encourage calm and a host of other health rewards. Purchase brands that source from uncontaminated waters: Eden and Emerald Cove. I actually use a Kombu-like seaweed from Maine called Digitata.
Bonito flakes are used to create a quick fish stock that makes the soup more nourishing and helps your body assimilate more protein. Miso paste and kombu are the most basic ingredients, so don’t worry if you don’t want the bonito.
- 1 dried shittake mushroom
- 1 tablespoon dried wakame, soaked in water 5 minutes then rinsed
- 1 small onion, sliced fine or small dice
- 1/2 small carrot, sliced fine or small dice
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated or minced
- 1 small garlic clove, sliced fine or minced
- Sliced scallions for garnish
Simmer kombu, bonito flakes and dried shittake for 10 minutes. If you’re at the office, you can steep in hot water, covered for 15 mintues. The kombu and bonito flake broth is called a “dashi.”
In your soup bowl. Dissolve the miso paste in a small amount of water so the miso doesn’t clump in the soup.
Turn off the heat and allow the dashi to cool to an edible temperature. Strain into your soup bowl that contains the dissolved miso paste. Discard, or save the kombu for cooking beans, the bonito flakes to top a salad and slice the shittakes for a stir-fry. DO NOT BOIL THE MISO because this will kill its beneficial bacteria!
To spice up your soup, sauté onions and carrots for 10 minutes with a little bit of good quality oil and Celtic sea salt. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes (do not brown the garlic). You can slice the rehydrated shittake and add them in as well. Strain the dashi into the pan. Add the soaked wakame. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Pour into your soup bowl. Sprinkle with scallions and enjoy!