|Miso Mushroom Soup|
Some people refer to miso soup as Japan’s chicken soup. Not only is miso soup pure comfort food, but it also contains lots of nutrients and is believed to have some cancer fighting properties.
At its most basic, miso soup is made with dashi, a Japanese “mother” stock, miso, wakame seaweed, and tofu. Miso is a fermented bean paste, made from soybeans (or other beans), grain (rice, barley or wheat) and salt. Miso can be light (kome miso, made from rice and soybeans), medium (mugi miso, made from barley and soybeans) or dark (hatcho miso, made from just soybeans) in color. There are other varieties of misos available, but these are the most common.
Dashi and wakame seaweed are two other ingredients in miso soup. Traditional dashi is made with kombu, a sea vegetable, and bonito flakes (bonito fish flakes), although vegetarian dashi is also quite common.
Kombu and wakame seaweed, which are sea vegetables, contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that are believed to reduce the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer. Sea vegetables have also been shown to lower blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol.
However, there is currently some confusion and controversy surrounding soy products and its effects on hormone dependent breast cancer, due to estrogen-like substances (isoflavones) in soy that may stimulate estrogen receptors of breast cancer cells. The American Institute for Cancer Research says women receiving anti-estrogen treatments such as tamoxifen should minimize soy foods.
When I cook for people with hormone dependent breast cancer, I generally avoid soy products (I do use soy sauce occasionally, which does not contain isoflavones). Fortunately, there are now misos made from other beans such as azuki miso and chickpea miso, so people with hormone dependent breast cancer can enjoy miso soup, and get the health benefits of sea vegetables.
Miso soup is actually very simple to prepare at home. Here’s how to make your own miso soup at home.
How To Make Vegetarian Dashi
One 12-inch strip of kombu seaweed
6 cups water
Dashi can be frozen (I do this so I can make miso soup and other soups whenever the whim strikes me).
Miso Soup with Mushrooms
Miso soup is very kid-friendly. In fact, it’s one of my kids’ favorites. I recommend using organic (non-GMO) miso and tofu. If you’re trying to stay away from soy products, try azuki or chickpea miso and leave out the tofu. For a hearty lunch or dinner, add some cooked brown rice or soba noodles to the soup.
|Dried Wakame Seaweed (left) and Hatcho Miso (right)|
½ cup dried wakame seaweed
Soak wakame seaweed in water to cover, and let sit 10 minutes to rehydrate.
|Rehydrated Wakame Seaweed|
Bring dashi to a boil in a medium size pan. Mix miso with some dashi to make a thin paste.
|Mix Miso with some Dashi to ensure a smooth soup|
Stir miso into dashi, and add rehydrated wakame seaweed, mushrooms and tofu. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
Soybean Extension and Research Program, Iowa State University