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Macro Monday: A Macrobiotic Staple...Miso Soup

Hi Guys,

Happy Monday. Can you believe January is already more than half over? Time flies!

Today's post is about one of the top Macrobiotic Staples.

MM: Miso Soup

Barley Miso at Rebar <3

Barley Miso at Rebar <3

I get asked about miso a lot. I know, kinda weird, right? But so is miso. I think it often freaks people out a little...especially when they hear the words "fermented" and "bean paste." And then they think of this tub just sitting there, in the back of their fridge, and being not sure what the heck to do with it. So I hope this helps!

 

What is Miso?

Well, as I said, it is a traditional Japanese fermented bean/grain paste, dating back to China (likely) 2500 years ago, used most often for seasoning soups.

It is most commonly made from combining soybeans, sea salt, and the starter koji (usually the fungus aspergillus oryzaea ), and mixed with grains such as rice or barley. It is fermented from 3 months up to 3 years. The variation in fermentation lengths, and the different beans or grains used, allows for there to be an amazing variety in kinds of miso, each one with a differing taste ranging from sweeter to more salty.

Miso is sold as a paste, often in plastic tubs or glass jars, in the cool section of the grocery store. You want to make sure you are purchasing miso that does not have preservatives in it, and that has been actually fermented, not simply filled with chemicals or artifical ingredients.

Miso paste can be added to soups, sauces, desserts and whatever else your heart desires, to add an amazing depth of flavour.

 

Health Benefits

Miso is extremely enzyme rich and is great for the immune system, which is perfect during the flu season. It also has a plethora of other health & healing benefits, including:

  • It is a good source of plant derived B vitamins, especially B12, which is very important and more difficult for vegetarians to get.
  • Along with other traditionally fermented products (like real sauerkraut), miso is a wonderful source of natural digestive-friendly good bacteria. It can help balance & restore beneficial probiotics to the intestines.
  • Miso is teeming with all the essential amino acids your body needs to function properly.
  • Miso is very alkalizing, which is what we want, as diseases flourish in acidic conditions, and cannot survive in alkaline conditions.
  • It can help to stimulate your digestive system and get things moving along
  • Due to the dipilocolonic acid in miso, it can help your body remove any accumulated heavy metals, and can help protect from radiation
  • Miso is a great source of manganese, copper & zinc, along with other amazing antioxidants.

 

How to Use It

While there are many different things you can make with miso, I want to focus today on the basic miso soup.

It is actually not so basic, as depending on the kind of miso paste, and the ingredients such as root veggies and/or noodles and/or protein such as tofu, you can create a hearty filling soup, or a very light simple soup to accompany any meal.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • You do NOT want to boil the miso paste - this will destroy the beneficial enzymes and good bacteria. It is therefore best added at the end, after all the veggies or whatever else are done boiling, and the stove temperature is lowered so your soup is just lightly simmering.
  • It is best to mix a few spoons of miso with some warm water in a separate bowl, until it has more of a sauce consistency, before adding it into your pot. This will prevent it from simply being one giant chunk in your soup :)
  • Please note: miso is fairly salty...it's probably best to not have more than 2 tsp per person, per day.
  • There are many kinds of miso (I read 1300 types!), and some are better at different times of the year:
    • Heavier miso types like straight soybean (hatcho miso) or darker rice miso in the winter
    • Barley (mugi miso) is great for a more year-round soup.
    • White miso (shiro miso) has a sweeter flavour and works better in dressing, sauces, and desserts.

 

Recipe for a Simple Veggie Miso Soup

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 inch piece of wakame, soaked in 1 cup water (keep the water to add to the soup)
  • 4 heaping teaspoons miso paste (I enjoy brown rice, barley or a new favourite is adzuki bean miso)
  • 1-2 tsps of sesame or toasted sesame oil
  • Veggies of your choice! Here's a recent combo I really enjoyed: few inches of thinly sliced daikon, a couple leaves of chinese cabbage or bok choy, about 1/4 of an onion or leek, and a few slices of green onion for garnish. {carrots and shitake are also lovely}
adzuki bean miso.JPG

Directions

  1. Soak wakame in about 1 cup of water, until softened (around 10 minutes).
  2. Wash and rinse all veggies. Cut the daikon pieces into half circles (moons), thinly chop the leek or onion, and thinly slice the cabbage or bok choy.
  3. Heat the oil in the bottom of a saucepan, and brown the onions or leek with a teeny tiny bit of sea salt, adding a bit of water if necessary, to prevent burning.
  4. Add in the daikon slices & the cabbage or bok choy stems, stirring for a few minutes until slightly sauteed.
  5. Chop up the soaked wakame.
  6. Add the 3 cups water, and the wakame soaking water to the pot, and bring to boil.
  7. Add the wakame, and let the veggies simmer until tender, between 5-10 minutes. Add in the finely chopped bok choy leaves closer to the end of that time frame, as they only need a few minutes to soften.
  8. Scoop out your miso paste, and mix with a tiny bit of water in a cup or bowl, until it is all dissolved and runny.
  9. Lower the temperature until the soup is barely simmering, and whisk the miso in. Alternatively, you can even remove the pot from the heat completely, and then whisk the miso in.
  10. Let it cook for a few minutes, until you see "clouds" appear. The miso will kind of puff up to the surface, like clouds, and then you'll know it's done.
  11. Throw on some green onion slices if desired, and serve.

*This miso will not be what you are used to getting at sushi restaurants...that stuff is often instant miso. It will have more of a texture. If you do not like the small bits of grain/bean chunks from the miso paste (most people don't mind), you can actually whisk your miso through a strainer like so:

More miso recipes to come in the weeks to follow :)

If you have any questions, or a favourite miso recipe to share, don't hesitate to comment or email me!

Enjoy, and may this week be nurturing, comforting, and healing for you, my friends.

xoxo Jess