Saturday, April 25, 2009


There is something that the Japanese have known for centuries, miso soup is a cheap, easy and an extremely health-supportive meal. In Japan, it is eaten on a daily basis, which might explain why the Japanese have lower rates of cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol than Americans.  Ideally, I have a pot in the fridge ready so that I can help myself each morning.  All I need are a few veggies, some tofu, some type of seaweed (wakame or arame), and maybe some noodles and I'm on my way.   Below is only a suggestion of what you can add to miso broth to make a hearty meal.  What is important is that you follow the directions on how to incorporate miso to the hot water while making your soup.  (Boiling miso will ruin it's beneficial properties.)

A word about miso:
Miso pastes are generally made from fermented soybeans, however others include fermented rice, barley or chickpeas. Each variety differs in flavor - some are intensely rich and salty, while the lighter miso pastes are sweet and mild. The health benefits of miso are quite profound. Studies prove eating a bowl of miso a day largely decreases the chance of breast cancer, due to its ability to regulate the hormone, oestrogen, which causes tumors to develop. Miso is also rich in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids. It is high in protein and Vitamin B12, (a vitamin many vegetarians and vegans lack).
Similar to yogurt, miso contains probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, which is necessary to maintain healthy flora in your intestinal tract. Miso contains the same active, live cultures found in yogurt, which is why it is extremely important NOT TO BOIL miso soup, as it will kill these cultures. If you are on antibiotics, a bowl of miso a day is ideal as it adds the healthy bacteria back to keep your intestines happy. (Antibiotics strip us of all bacteria - good and bad.).
Miso paste can be found in any health food store, Asian markets and sometimes in the dairy section of conventional grocery stores.

Miso broth with Soba Noodles and Baby Bok Choy
Serves 4

4 cups water
3 TBLS miso paste - (Yellow, white or red. Yellow is the lightest flavor, red is the darker, more salty)
8 oz. firm or silken tofu - cubed
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
3 carrots, cut into half moons
3-4 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 heads baby bok choy, bottom trimmed and washed
1 bunch soba or udon noodles
bunch of scallions thinly sliced for garnish
black sesame seeds for garnish

Spoon miso paste into a heat resistant cup or bowl and set aside.
Bring water to boil, add onion, carrot and tofu.
Boil for about 5 minutes, add shitake and bok choy, reduce to a simmer.
Add noodles and cook until done.
Add about 1/2 cup of simmering water into miso paste and stir well to combine miso into water. Pour this mixture into the soup and turn off heat.
Laddle into bowls and top with scallions and/or black sesame seeds.

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