Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Miso Soup with Wakame, Carrots & Tofu

Miso soup sounds like a daunting culinary embarking, possibly because it's something most of us have only had in restaurants. The reality is that it's about the easiest, and certainly the fastest, soup you can make. All of the work is done for you in the fermenting of the miso paste, so all you need to do is throw a few things together, boil water, and serve. Super simple!

My recipe for miso soup is loosely based on this one. I like to add wakame, a sea vegetable, to mine for a little authentic Japanese something-or-other. It also happens to be a very nutrient-dense food, particularly in iodine, which is essential for thyroid health. Wakame is a dry vegetable (so don't look in the produce aisle), and can be found in most health food stores, and even in many well-stocked supermarkets.

Many vegetables can go into a miso soup, traditional and non. One of the best ones is cabbage, particularly napa cabbage. Radishes (daikon) and turnips also compliment this soup well, but prepare them as I do with carrots (below). You could introduce fish or shellfish into a miso soup, as well.

Miso Soup with Wakame, Carrots & Tofu
8 cups water
1 1/2 pieces wakame (usually comes in 4-5" lengths), cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. unpeeled ginger (I use the little nubs on the root)
1 Tbsp. dry sherry or brown rice vinegar
1 carrot, cut into strips with a peeler, and then halved
1/2 c. white miso or brown rice miso (available in health food stores and Asian markets - refrigerated section)
2 scallions (green and white), sliced or julienned
4 oz. soft or firm tofu (avoid silken and extra firm), cubed

In a stock pot, bring the water, wakame, ginger and sherry to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the carrot (or other vegetables) and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove 1/2 c. of broth and dissolve the miso into the broth. Return this mixture to the soup. Turn the heat off. Add scallions and tofu to each bowl, as you are serving.

Serves 4-6.

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