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Miso Soup with Shiitakes

Warm, umami, filling, nourishing. All six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.

Warm, umami, filling, nourishing. All six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent.

Miso soup is comforting, mega umami, fast and kind of impressive to make at home. It’s a complete meal, though you could serve with scallion/sesame white rice on the side if you are extra hungry.

In the book Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health, Finnish mushroom expert Tero Isokauppila writes about these benefits of shiitakes:

  • improves complexion

  • supports liver

  • lowers cholesterol

  • used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to enhance “chi” and prevent aging

  • contains 7/9 essential amino acids (protein building blocks)

  • contains amylase and cellulase which aid in digestion

  • good source of magnesium and potassium

  • its an immunomodulator (“contains the polysaccharide lentinan which activates white blood cells to fight infection”)

  • has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties

Mushrooms are earthy, and in Ayurveda can be heavy and dulling to some people (especially kapha types), but I find mushrooms to be deeply grounding and calming this time of year.

This recipe contains all six tastes:

  • sweet: sesame seeds, tofu, and mushrooms (sweet taste in Eastern medicine also refers to the grounding or nourishing qualities of certain foods)

  • sour: fermented miso paste

  • salty: Himalayan pink salt, the best salt for high blood pressure (in small quantities)

  • pungent: green onion, miso paste

  • bitter: greens, sesame seeds

  • astringent: greens

I make some version of this on the weekly. See variations below. Let me know if you attempt this and any questions. XO

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Ingredients (serves 2):

2 tbsp ghee or olive oil

2 big handfuls shiitake mushrooms, sliced or torn

Himalayan pink salt (a pinch)

2 handfuls chopped greens (like kale, chard, collards, or spinach)

1/2 block tofu (I love Bridge tofu from CT found at WF)

4 cups water

2 tbsp miso paste (I used South River chickpea miso, can also use sweet white miso)

1 tbsp dulse flakes (optional, it’s Maine seaweed and provides minerals and a little salty taste), can sub seaweed crisps

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 green onion, green part only, sliced very thin

1 handful basil, chopped or torn

  1. In a med pot, heat up ghee and fry shiitakes until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Stir every few minutes and season with salt.

  2. While mushrooms are cooking, slice the tofu into chunks the size of iphone 4. Press tofu between paper towels to dry out. Chop into little bites and push off to a corner of your cutting board.

  3. Chop greens (remove tough stem if using kale or collards) and push to another corner. Chop scallions and basil.

  4. When mushrooms are golden, scoop out of the pot into a bowl and set aside.

  5. Add water to the same pot without cleaning it, bring to boil then throw in greens. Reduce to simmer for 2-4 minutes until bright green. Add tofu and cook 2 more minutes.

  6. Turn off heat. In a cup (I used a 2 cup glass pyrex measuring cup) ladle about 1/2 cup of the broth and add miso paste. Mix completely with a fork or whisk. Add mixture back to the pot along with sesame seeds, dulse flakes, scallions and basil.

    Note: Do not boil miso, it kills the good enzymes, which is why it has to be mixed off heat and poured back :)

Variations:

  • add roasted cubed pumpkin or sweet potato in place of mushrooms

  • soy free: add soft boiled eggs instead of tofu, replace soy miso with chickpea miso or barley miso

  • rotate greens for micronutrient variety

To Go Instant Miso Soup:

  • In a mason jar, add chopped tofu, sauteed shiitakes, greens that wilt fast (like baby spinach), chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, and 1 tbsp miso paste. Cover and refrigerate at work. At lunch, add hot water to mason jar, mix miso paste with fork, and enjoy hot soup without a microwave.

Slice tofu then press between paper towels

Slice tofu then press between paper towels

Two cups of shrooms cook down quite a bit. Brown them!

Two cups of shrooms cook down quite a bit. Brown them!

One pot meals rule. This was done in 20 minutes!

One pot meals rule. This was done in 20 minutes!