Monday, September 26, 2011

0 Miso Soup, it's not just for eating out...

I love miso soup – I usually have it for lunch or a mid afternoon snack and I find it gives me a boost of energy in the afternoons. It's very healthy and really pretty easy to make too. I make a big pot of it once a week and ladle it into serving size resealable containers to eat throughout the week.

Traditionally Miso soup is made with Dashi. What is dashi? It's a soup stock made from dried kelp and dried bonito flakes (small fish). If you're a vegetarian or if you are really taking cutting out processed foods to heart, you can make a dashi like stock from kombu (kelp) and shitake mushrooms. It's what I do and you really can't taste the difference. I use this home made dashi as a base for my vegetable soup too.

Miso Soup
1 Tbl dry Dashi mix (or 6 cups of kombu/shitake broth & omit water)
6 cups water
2 Tbl chopped wakame seaweed (this will expand when cooked, so chop it small)
4 Tbl miso paste
½ block tofu, cut into cubes
1 scallion thinly sliced

In a large pot bring water to a near boil, add dashi and seaweed. Cook for a couple of minutes, lower temperature to medium, scoop a couple of cups of liquid out, mix with miso paste and pour back into pot. Add tofu, simmer for 10 minutes. Serve, add scallion as garnish.

Vegetarian Dashi
6 cups of water
1 piece (4"x6") of kombu (kelp)
4 shitake mushrooms

Bring water to boil, add kombu and shitake, remove from heat and let sit 20 minutes. Discard kombu. Remove shitake and save for another meal (sometimes I chop them up and put them into the miso).

Shitake mushrooms, kombu, dashi, seaweed and miso paste, may be found in the Asian food aisle of your local supermarket, but is easily found in your local Asian market. I like shopping at Asian markets there's always something new that catches my eye.  I'm sure that they will be more than happy to help you find what you are looking for and they might even give you other ideas of food you can make with the ingredients that you're buying. One day when I was shopping at my favorite market and the owner told me that on hot days she makes a cold cucumber soup with the seaweed that I was buying – when I expressed interest in it, she gave me the recipe!

If your store or reheat things in plastic containers, make sure that the recycling label does not have a 3 or 7 in the code as those plastics contain BPA that may leach into your food, especially when heated. A lot of processed food products are in cans that are lined with BPA just another reason to eat fresh, whole, natural foods. The Breast Cancer Fund recommends eating fresh, whole foods, rather than canned as much as possible including cooking pasta and making your own sauce or using jarred sauce instead of pasta in a can, making your own soup or buying soup in a box instead of soup in a can, and eating fresh or dried fruit instead of canned fruit.

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