Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quick and Satisfying Miso Soup

The temperature is beginning to cool off which means that soup weather has arrived. I’m a HUGE fan of soups and if I had to choose one form of cuisine to live on, this would be it. I love the idea of an entire meal in one pot or bowl and many soups don’t have to simmer on the stove all day to taste great and be satisfying. Take for example the 5-minute miso soup below. I’ve made this on several occasions recently–either after a long day where I wanted something light but satisfying, or even for a quick lunch or snack. And if you have any leftover grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, or rice, it would make this soup even heartier.

A few things about the ingredients in the recipe below:

Any vegetable broth will do (you can even use water), but last year I discovered something called Better Than Bouillon, an organic soup stock concentrate that comes in a glass jar. You can use as little or as much as you’d like, depending on your taste and unlike bouillon cubes, it blends into hot water in seconds.

Miso is a fermented soy paste that is safer than any of the unfermented soy products such as edamame, isolated soy protein, soy-based meat substitutes, soy milk, and to some extent, tofu. Miso is high in protein and a source of vitamin K2, which is required for healthy bones, blood clotting as well as cardiovascular and brain health. It is also believed to be protective against several forms of cancers, including prostate, lung, liver and leukemia. Vitamin K2 also acts in conjunction with vitamin D. In moderation, miso can be a healthy addition to the diet. I say moderation for a couple of reasons: number one, miso is high in salt; and second, it's important to get our protein from multiple sources, not just fermented soy. It is often tempting for vegetarians or vegans to look to soy or other single plant-based sources for their protein. But just as with anything, more of a good thing is not necessarily better, just more.

Arame is a sea vegetable that is high in minerals such as iodine, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It is also a good source of vitamin K and folate. In particular, arame has a mild, semi-sweet flavor, which is a good choice for those who shy away from the taste of stronger seaweeds such as kelp. It’s usually purchased dried as well so if stored properly, it keeps indefinitely.

Mushrooms are a good source of protein, B vitamins and minerals and have immune boosting and cancer fighting properties. I’ve been using dried mushrooms lately because they keep longer and are just as beneficial as fresh.

Ginger is an amazing herb that has a number of health benefits that are outlined in this article I recently shared on Facebook.

As you can see, for a seemingly simple and quick soup, it packs a whopping amount of health benefits. And don’t be fooled by the “lightness” of the ingredients. I find this soup to be very hearty and satisfying just as it is. But as I said above, leftover grains, or even vegetables will give it more bulk.

Miso Soup

2 c vegetable broth
1 T red miso
2 T arame seaweed
¼ c dried porcini mushrooms
ginger juice

Place broth in a medium saucepan and heat on medium. Add the miso to a small amount of broth and mix well to dissolve, then add the mixture to the pot of broth. Rinse the mushrooms, then add to the pot along with the seaweed. To prepare ginger juice, using the large holes on a vegetable grater, grate a 1” piece of ginger. Place the grated ginger in the palm of your hand and squeeze the juice directly into the pot of soup. Alternatively, peel and mince the ginger and add it that way. For a heartier soup, add leftover quinoa, buckwheat, or rice. This recipe can also be scaled up very easily.

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