Today is a lovely rainy spring day -perfect for my first time making miso soup! Miso soup is a light broth soup. It is made with miso paste, which is a salty fermented soy bean paste -that sounds gross, but it is quite good and quite good for you.
Miso soup typically has seaweed both floating in it (typically wakame) and soaked to use for the broth (kombu). I went shopping for these two seaweeds at a local health food store and was happily surprised to discover a little coastal Maine company that harvests the sea vegetable, VitaminSea (their Web site has lots of recipes I can’t wait to try with the leftover seaweed).
Benefits of Miso
Miso is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s really healthy stuff. An insert I found in my miso container sighted a recent study linking miso consumption to reduced risk of breast cancer. There are a few different kinds, with slightly different flavors. I honestly am no miso expert (here’s a link that gives a brief overview of the different kinds), but it is the white kind you want for the soup.
Benefits of Seaweed
From reading the back of the package, I found out that kombu seaweed is a great source of soluble fiber, iodine, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Wakame is equally nutrient rich, having the highest source of calcium of any sea vegetable, along with B complex vitamins, and vitamins A, C, and K.
The kombu needs to soak quite a while (the recipe I used said at least an hour and up to overnight) to create the broth or dashi. I started soaking mine mid-morning and made the soup in the early evening. But after that prep time, it comes together quite quickly. The seaweed is really fun to work with, watching it expand to more than double its size in the pot.
I used this miso soup recipe, at Je suis alimentageuse, a vegan cooking blog. This version of the recipe is vegan because you don’t add bonito flakes (dried fish), which worked for me because it was one less pricey and hard-to-find ingredient I had to buy. The other ingredients besides the seaweed can be found in most American grocery stores -tofu, scallions, miso paste (usually refrigerated and found near the produce), and I added some mushrooms to mine because in my book, everything is better with mushrooms!
This made a nice big batch that I ate with dinner tonight and can eat throughout the week for any meal -miso soup makes a nice breakfast! However, I read you don’t want to cook the miso, as it looses its flavor, so if you’re making a big batch I suggest putting all the other chopped ingredients into the broth then refrigerate. You can reheat the broth, then you’ll just need to whisk in about 1-2 tsp of the miso paste with a fork for each serving.
What can you do with the leftover kombu seaweed after it soaks?
Make natural plant fertilizer!
Here’s my serendipity for the day. I spent the morning potting some houseplant clippings that had rooted. Then I went to the store to buy some tofu and was hoping they had a basil plant I could get, since I found this recipe for some red cabbage I needed to use up. They had one, and since it was in sad shape they gave it to me for free!
I read up online how to care for said sad basil plant and it needs fertilizer. It just so happens that all this seaweed I have lying around makes a great plant fertilizer, containing all of the nutrients plants need. So, I will be re-soaking the kombu, because I’m sure not all of its nutrients have left it yet, and use that water to fertilize my basil plant and the rest of my houseplants. I’m resoaking it in the water that the wakame rehydrated in.
Isn’t life and the Internet wonderful?
One more thought on red cabbage
The red cabbage recipe above turned out so delicious, I wanted to share a little more. The recipe is called Asian Red Cabbage Slaw with Peanuts, and I got it off of the Food Network’s Web site. But since I think raw red cabbage is a bit bitter, I wanted to cook it. So I sauted it for a few minutes, and since I was sauteing, I added 1/2 an onion. The result was kind of like a red cabbage pad thai. Very yummy, not to mention -what a healthy pad thai alternative!
Do you cook with seaweed? Got any good seaweed or miso recipes to share?