Miso Soup made Easy

Another of my Sunday Specials - as I mentioned in my last post, I cooked a number of dishes for the coming week, allowing me a week's worth of meals and food photos to take. This soup recipe has been slow cooking in my mind for about a year. I was reminded of it when a co-worker mentioned to me that one of the ways she found that helped her lose and keep weight off was by eating soups, especially miso soup. Soup as a meal is economical, good for you and a Weight Watchers sanctioned eating tip. The broth fills you and the veggies are good for you. Depending on the content, it can be full of good fiber, protein and low in fat. My miso soup is a great meal for me to help me keep up the WW Momentum, it's very filling. Considering that I'm back on track with my Weight Watchers program, I really want continue to take off the pounds. The pesky three holiday pounds I gained are almost gone, my weigh in this week got me back to my 65 pounds lost point! I'm also working out more, taking a weekly yoga class and riding when the weather permits. It's all connected for me, cooking good foods, writing interesting recipes and taking food photos along with the mind/body connection I am experiencing through my yoga classes and cross training. This miso soup recipe that I've created is a way to pack in the good for you vegetables and proteins plus it's filling and low-fat too. Eating well is one key to my overall well-being.

Miso is a paste, made from fermented soybeans, barley and other grains. It has a smokey, salty and sweet flavor and is becoming easier to find in most supermarkets. Look for it in the International/Asian food section. It is usually found in the refridgerated case. There are many brands and styles, white miso, red miso and black. It's sold as a paste, either in a seeled plastic bag, or in a seeled container. Once opened, store it in the refridgerator in a tightly covered container. I found that it keeps for at least 6 months, in the coldest part of the refridgerator. If you are feeling adventurous, take a stroll through an Asian Supermarket, where you will find a larger variety of miso products. Traditional miso soups use a broth made with dashi, a seaweed or kelp broth that can be complicated to make and entirely not necessary for my cooking purposes. Remembering tricks from previous cooking gigs, as long as I get a good base layer of flavors going, I only need to use water for my vegetable soups; it's cheaper and easier.

For the vegetables, I went with some basics that you can find at any grocery; the only other unusual ingredients I used were bean sprouts, buckwheat soba noodles and fish sauce. To make the recipe easier, I've streamlined it, assuming that the ingredents used would have to be available in most well-stocked conventional supermarkets (as opposed to my Asian Markets or Whole Foods). Feel free to add or omit any veggies as you see fit, but keep in mind, you should use the ginger, garlic, carrots, celery and onions as your base layer of flavors. If you are feeling fancy, cut the veggies into decorative shapes. I made carrot and raddish flowers, by scoring them first with a lemon curler and then cutting rounds. Because I cut a "channel" into the sides of the carrot and the raddishes, the cut rounds look like little flowers. If you cannot find buckwheat soba noodles, you can use rice celophane noodles, whole wheat thin spaghetti, or rice vermicelli noodles. In a pinch use the ramen noodles, but don't use the seasoning packet - it's packed full of sodium and sugar and you don't need it! This is a vegetarian version - if you have any leftover meat or fish, add it! It's especially good with roast pork, shrimp or chicken.

Miso Soup Ingredients:
  • 6 Cups Cold Water
  • 1/2 Cup Miso Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce, plus more to taste
  • 4-6 Dashes Fish Sauce (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion - Finely Diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots - small dice or thin rounds
  • 2 Celery Stalks - small dice
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger - 1 Tablespoon minced, the other tablespoon sliced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1 Medium Zucchini - Small Dice
  • 4 Radishes - cleaned and cut into thin rounds
  • 1/2 Cup String Beans - cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 Small Can Baby Corn - cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 small can Water Chestnuts - drained and sliced
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 8 Ounce package Buckwheat Soba Noodles or Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti, Rice Vermicelli Noodles or Cellophane Noodles - cooked, rinsed and cooled
  • 1 Cup Bean Sprouts
Directions:
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup miso paste, 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1 cup of water until the miso is disolved and no lumps appear. If using fish sauce, add several dashes to the mixture. Set aside.

  2. Use large, heavy bottomed (4 quarts or larger) sauce pot and preheat the sesame oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add in the carrots, celery and onions and saute until the onions and celery are translucent and the carrots are knife tender - about 5 minutes.

  3. Reduce heat to medium and add in the garlic and minced ginger, sauting for 2 minutes.

  4. Add in the zuchini and raddishes, if using, and saute for 2 minutes.

  5. Pour in the miso broth mixture,the remaining 5 cups of water and the remaining tablespoon of sliced ginger. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

  6. After the miso soup has simmered for 20 minutes, add in the string beans, baby corn and water chestnuts.

  7. Taste the broth and season with freshly ground black pepper. If the broth tastes too thin, whisk in a tablespoon more miso, thinning if first with some of the soup broth and then pouring the mixture back into the sauce pot. Adjust to taste using additional soy sauce as the salt.

  8. Serve hot, over cooked soba noodles, and garnished with a handful of bean sprouts.

  9. Makes 8 servings - or 2 quarts of soup.

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