Healing Miso Soup

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Ashley Neese
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Miso is a fermented, enzyme and probiotic rich food that is beneficial to consume year round. In winter I choose darker miso because it has been fermented longer which adds more warmth to the body. I love adzuki miso. Barley is also a good choice for winter. Darker miso is typically less salty than lighter miso. In Traditional Chinese Medicine miso is a prized medicinal food that is used to prevent diseases and strengthen the body. Miso is alkalizing, boosts immunity, and supports digestion. 

Winter often corresponds with the water element so consuming sea vegetables is a great way to further align with the season and consume extra vitamins and trace minerals. Sea vegetables like kombu, nourish our hair, nails, and skin which can become very brittle and dry this time of year. I also use heat producing herbs to this recipe to further warm the body and support the immune system.

To add an element of beauty and texture to the soup I made a small batch of quick pickled lotus root. I put a few slices of red beet in the jar to give the lotus root some color. This is a very easy thing to do and it is sure to impress everyone. Lotus root supports the liver and lungs which tend to need extra attention in winter. This gorgeous root is typically thought of as a summer food but when blanched and pickled makes a delicious and healthy addition to a winter soup. 

When making the soup you will add the miso at the very end. You don’t want to boil the miso – that denatures the enzymes and good bacteria that we want in the soup. In more traditional recipes a small portion of the broth is removed from the soup. The miso gets stirred into that portion and then added back into the big pot. The general rule of thumb is 1 tablespoon of miso per 1 cup of water. I use a little less in the recipe but feel free to adjust to your tastes. 

My Nourishing Miso Soup recipe can be enjoyed all winter long. Feel free to switch out the greens and herbs for whatever you have on hand. You could even quick pickle some daikon if you can’t get your hands on lotus root. The most important part of any recipe is that you take your time, connect with the food, and have fun along the way. Here’s to eating well and taking really good care of yourself this year. 

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Nourishing Miso Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients 

  • 6 c. water 
  • 4 inch strip kombu, cut into several pieces 
  • 1 & 1/2 c. burdock, cut lengthwise then into half moons
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 small heads baby bok choy, ends trimmed and leaves separated 
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger
  • Small handful enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed
  • 4 Tbsp. dark miso
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 c. diakon, shredded
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • Pickled lotus root

M E T H O D

Add the water to a medium pot and turn on the heat to medium-high. 

Next add the kombu to the pot. When the water comes to a boil reduce the heat to a low simmer. 

Add the burdock root, onion, chopped carrot, garlic, and mushrooms to the pot and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until the burdock is tender. When burdock is tender turn off the heat.

Ladle out one cup of the broth into a small bowl.

Add the bok choy, ginger, enoki mushrooms and cover the pot. Let sit covered for 3 minutes.

Mash the miso into the small bowl of broth carefully until combined. Pour it into the pot and stir in gently. Taste and add more miso using the same method if needed.

Ladle into bowls and garnish the soup with shredded carrot, daikon, scallions, black sesame seeds, and a few slices of lotus root.

Enjoy this soup warm and reheat leftovers over low heat as to not boil the miso.

 

Quick Pickled Lotus Root

Here is a basic recipe that you can expand on and adapt as you see fit. I used a smaller Weck jar and created measurements accordingly. Once you decide how much lotus root you want to make and what size jar you will use, it’s easy. 

A good base for lotus root is one part vinegar to two parts water. I experimented and tried my usual 1 part water to 1 part vinegar ratio for quick pickles but it was way too over powering for this delicate root. I added a few thin slices of red beet to give the lotus root some color.

If you want these for your soup make them one day ahead as they need twenty four hours to pickle. The longer it stays in the fridge the more flavorful it will become. Be sure to sterilize your jar before using it. To sterilize it, just place the jar in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Use tongs to get it out of the water.

Ingredients

  • 1 Weck jar size 741
  • 1 c. sliced lotus root
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 
  • 4 thin slices of red beet
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

M E T H O D

Blanch the lotus root in a small pot of water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar for 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Put the lotus root in your sterilized jar. Add the beet slices on top.

In the same small pot add the water, 1/2 c. vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute or two. 

Ladle the brine into each jar until all of the veggies are submerged. Allow to come to room temperature on the counter.

Put the lids on top and store them in the fridge.

Pickled lotus root will be ready in 24 hours.