Chicken soup is dandy when you're feeling ill, and a veggie broth will certainly get some vitamins into you, but nothing to us is quite as curative as miso soup. Miso soup is a Japanese favourite - often in restaurants you will be served a small bowl of it before your meal, but it is just as good as the main event if you're looking for a low-calorie, warming lunch.
Miso soup is made from a soybean miso paste, and it has a savory, salty taste. We all are guilty of indulging in a little too much salt, but did you know research has found that although miso is relatively high in sodium, it doesn't produce the same damage to our cardiovascular systems as other high-sodium foods seem to do. Studies showed that table salt produces high blood pressure, but subjects who consumed the same amount of sodium in miso soup did not see any rise in blood pressure. Fascinating huh?
Miso also contains a whole load of antioxidants, seemingly related to the fact that the soy beans are fermented to make miso, and these are great at fighting those nasty free radicals.
Miso soup contains all the things your body loves, namely; copper, manganese, vitamin k, lots of protein, zinc, omega-3 fats, vitamin B2 and it's a good source of fiber too! These offer great benefits for the body including optimal bone production, increased skin intergrity, blood sugar control, and vitamin K is great for helping to heal wounds. We suppose that makes Miso soup the perfect choice for someone who is feeling poorly, but even if you're not sick it's going to benefit you greatly!
All that, and that's just in the miso paste! Don't forget a good miso soup also contains kombu seaweed, which is a great source of iron, tofu, which is a great source of protein, and which ever other veggies you choose!
Miso can even be made vegetarian or vegan, and with all that iron and protein it's great for a meat free diet.
So let's get on to the recipe!
You will need:
1 Pint of Dashi Stock, Chicken Stock, or Vegetable Stock. (Dashi is traditional but contains fish, so adjust for dietary requirements)
Dashi Stock is made from 4 cups of water, a good handful of kombu seaweed and 1/2 cup of tightly packed bonito flakes, cook together for 5 minutes and make up to 4 days in advance for a very flavourful stock.
2 Cups of Water
3 Tablespoons of Miso Paste
12oz of Firm Tofu
1 Cup of Enoki Mushrooms
1 Cup of Shiitake Mushrooms
1/2 Cup of thinly sliced Spring Onions
Heat the stock and water to a gentle simmer, then add the cut up tofu and mushrooms - everything should be nicely bite sized, remember, the traditional way to drink miso is out of a small cup-like bowl which you drink from. This should give you an idea of how small things should be chopped!
Cook until the mushrooms are tender. The tofu simply needs warming. This should take just under ten minutes.
Meanwhile in a small cup mix together the miso paste with a couple of spoonfuls of the stock. Whisk together with a fork until it is light and frothy, then add to the soup.
Add a small sprinkling of the kombu seaweed to the soup - be careful, because this expands to many times it's size! Kombu seems small when you first take it out the packet but it becomes quite large when it rehydrates, so add a little, then add more later if you need it.
Serve up the soup in bowls, and sprinkle with fresh spring onions. Done!