Miso Soup for the Soul

Let’s start with a little background. I am an American born, Polish white girl that lives in Denver, CO, okay? I have a love for food of all different cultures, but if you’re looking for more traditional information on miso soup and Japanese culture and cooking, let me direct you to some more appropriate blogs.

Now, if you’re here for some inspiration (and a little bit of food-nerd education!) on how you too can appreciate this simple, yet flavorful Japanese dish, read on.

I made this miso soup starting with a Japanese-style Dashi consisting of kombu, dried shitake mushrooms and filtered water.

What’s dashi you may ask?

A traditional Japanese stock, that can be made in a number of different ways, all providing the umami flavor. Like chicken and beef is the base of western stocks, kombu is the base of your Japanese stocks. In Japanese, umami translates to “the essence of deliciousness” (food lovers *swoon*).

Umami leaves a lingering, savory taste on your tongue, with a burst of flavor. You’ve tasted it before eating something like a juicy burger or cured meats, parmesan cheese, and if you’re lucky, the perfectly ripe tomato.

I must give myself a little pat on the back for naturally grabbing the right ingredients, without consulting any blogs! The two key ingredients you need are kombu and dried shitake mushrooms.

What exactly is kombu?

Image result for pacific kombu brand to buy for miso soup
What kombu looks like

Kombu is an edible kelp, or seaweed. It’s glutamic acid provides the umami flavor, and it hosts a number of vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A and C, and trace minerals like iodine, potassium, and calcium.

This nutrition-nerd is geeking out, but I’m not done yet! Kombu also hosts a number of different enzymes that our bodies don’t have! This means it helps in breaking down those gas-producing, indigestible fibers in foods like beans.

Some brands of beans, like Eden Foods, have kombu in them, but you can also easily incorporate kombu to your beans at home. In fact, you can eliminate overnight soaking, by adding kombu into your pot of beans at home. It’s also added to sushi rice for flavor.

How to Make a Simple Dashi

For 2-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 1, 4-inch kombu
  • 3 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (tamari, if gluten-free)

Directions:

  1. Soak the dried shitake mushrooms and kombu in 4 cups of filtered water for 15 minutes. Do not rinse the kombu, as the white compounds are where all the good stuff lies.
  2. After 15 minutes of soaking, remove only the shitake mushrooms, and thinly slice the caps, discarding the stem. (Side note: this is a great time to appreciate the mushroom. I’ll spare you my analogy, but fellow food and body nerds, feel free to hit up my IG DM’s @benevolentbodies to geek out together!)
  3. Moving on, return sliced caps to pot and bring water to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Do not boil, as this can create too bitter of a taste. (Note: this may be a new, and potent, smell for you, don’t be deterred!)
  4. After 15 minutes of simmering, remove and discard kombu and dried shitake mushrooms (excellent for composting, if able!)
  5. Add 2 tbsp of soy sauce or tamari, if gluten-free.

How To Make the Miso Soup

Max 4 servings, as I understand traditional miso ratios are 1 tbsp miso paste to 1 cup of soup.

Ingredients for Miso Soup:

  • Homemade Dashi recipe above (4 cups)
  • 4 Tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 block of pressed tofu, cubed into small pieces.

Directions:

  1. Simply add 4 tbsp of miso paste to the fresh dashi you just made.
  2. Reheat if necessary, but NEVER boil miso soup, as it will lose it’s flavor.
  3. Add sliced scallions and cubed tofu.
  4. You might also consider adding other things: like thinly sliced shallots, spinach, napa cabbage, ramen noodles, or soft boiled egg for a heartier meal.
  5. Check in with your hunger/fullness scale, serve, and enjoy! 🙂

For more creative recipe ideas like the one above, I invite you to check out my services and consider working with me! I have more blog posts about Intuitive Eating and the importance of self-care to give you an idea about my style!

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