Miso soup, a Japanese tradition, is an integral part of a healthy, modern diet, and can be made with all-American ingredients. My family loves to make this soup for breakfast, as it is light and easy to digest, soothing to the stomach, and chock full of minerals. Miso soup is a great start to any meal, as it stimulates digestion and prepares the stomach to receive food. Miso soup, which contains wakame seaweed, is long known to be good for air travelers because it is alkalizing, hydrating, good for regularity, and mitigates the negative effects of radiation you are exposed to at high altitudes.The good news is that miso soup can be made simply in just 5-10 minutes, after a little bit of practice. Make your soup fresh each time, as it loses its vitality if it sits for a day or longer.
There are just 5 components of this quick and healthy miso soup:
- Water or vegetable stock
- Wakame sea vegetable
- Sliced land vegetable(s)
- Unpasteurized miso
Wakame is the most common sea vegetable used in miso soup. Although sea vegetables are often associated with Asian diets, there are a number of great sea vegetable compnies on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. I usually buy Atlantic wakame (or Alaria) from Ironbound Island Seaweed (also locally available at Wheatsville Coop) where sea vegetables are hand harvested and sun-dried. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and Maine Seaweed are also wonderful companies specializing in sustainably harvested seaweed.
Miso is a high-protein seasoning that offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, and protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. It is usually made with soybeans, cultured rice or barley, and salt. I look for miso that is traditionally made, as it is the highest in quality. It should be unpasteurized and produced with organic, non-gmo soybeans (or some other kind of bean), organic rice or barley koji, and sea salt. No alcohol or other preservatives are used in making this kinds of miso. My favorite brands that I can buy locally (or order online if I want a special variety) are South River Miso from Conway, Massachusetts and Miso Master made in North Carolina.
There are many delicious miso varieties to choose from when making miso soup. Some of the ones that I prefer to use in the hot Texas climate are chickpea miso, sweet white or yellow miso, or a combination of red miso and a lighter colored miso (stir together half and half).
Here is a compelling video about the miso making process at New England’s South River Miso Company which produces traditionally made, superior quality misos at their Massachusetts facility. Check out their web site for additional information and videos.
Before adding miso paste to your soup, dissolve it in a small cup with some warm water or soup broth. Whisk it until it is a smooth mixture, then add it into the soup at the point the vegetables are done cooking.
Any vegetables of your choice can be used in miso soup. I like to slice them thinly so that my soup will cook quickly. Some of my favorites include: shiitake mushrooms, celery, daikon radish, sweet potato, carrot, and baby bok choy. I usually choose about two vegetables to put into my soup each time. Including a garnish for miso soup is essential for having a fresh touch to an otherwise cooked soup. I like to use thinly sliced scallions, grated daikon radish, or fresh parsley to top my soup for color, texture, and flavor.
Miso Vegetable Soup
Author: Chef Rachel Z
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese, Macrobiotic
- 3 cups filtered or spring water or vegetable stock
- 2 strips wakame sea vegetable or pinch of wakame flakes
- 1 cup thinly sliced vegetables
- 1-2 tablespoons unpasteurized miso paste
- 1 scallion, sliced into very thin rounds
- Heat water or stock in small saucepan.
- Add wakame strips or flakes. Wakame flakes will instantly rehydrate. Wakame strips take a little longer. If using wakame strips, remove them from the pot and slice into small squares that are bite-sized and return to the soup pot.
- Add vegetables and simmer for a minute or two. If vegetables are sliced very thinly, this will only take about one minute.
- Whisk together miso and a little of the hot soup broth in a small cup or bowl until smooth. Add miso to soup pot, stir, and turn off the heat. Miso will appear to "bloom" in the pot, which is a sign it is ready to serve.
- Ladle a cup or so of the soup into a small soup bowl or cup.
- Sprinkle gently with scallion slices for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
- Some delicious vegetable combinations include: celery and carrot or daikon, shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy, or sweet potato or winter squash and baby bok choy.
- Miso varieties can include any light or dark misos. In warmer weather you may prefer a lighter miso such as chickpea, sweet brown rice, yellow, or sweet white miso. In colder weather you may want a stronger, saltier miso such as 3-year barley, chickpea and barley, red, or hatcho (the darkest variety).
- Other garnishes can include: grated daikon radish, pan-toasted mochi cubes, fresh parsley, or other fresh herbs.