Thursday, November 4, 2010

mmm......Miso Soup

It's been too long, amigos.

October was a busy month. A half marathon, my first catering gig, 2 new classes - all good things, but they ate up my time.

So, in order to make up for my lengthy absence from the blogosphere, I am posting twice. In one day. Look out!!!

I have been reading a new book - The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. I know what you are thinking. A book. By Cher. Well, I understand. I too was a little skeptical about a vegan cookbook by yet another celebrity. What does she know, right? Yet, as I was standing in the cookbook section of the library the other day, I found myself grabbing 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, yes 10 books. My recent self-imposed ban on cookbook purchases has left my addiction a little starved, and a wall full of free books was just overwhelming. They are free, people! Free!

Anyhow, I came home with Ms. Silverstone's cookbook, although cookbook is not the right classification. It is more of a how-to book for potential vegans that focuses heavily on a macrobiotic diet. I really love this book. Her tone is conversational without being overly simplistic (aka Skinny Bitch), and offers a holistic take on vegan food that focuses on balance and overall well-being. She boasts of increased energy, glowing skin, and natural weight management with a simple diet of whole grains, beans, and tons of vegetables. I can do that, right? So, for the next couple weeks, I am going to go macro, more or less. If I feel like eating a slice, I am going to eat a slice, but while at home, I am going to try this thing out. Who doesn't want to glow, right?

One of the major components of the macrobiotic diet is miso, and miso soup. I love miso soup, and have always wanted to learn how to make it. The recipe below is by no means original. It is the traditional method of making miso, and produces a rich, salty, completely satisfying soup.

A note on the ingredients: Don't be intimidated by the unfamiliar items. If you haven't made friends with your local Asian market, now is the time. They carry hard to find ingredients, and pantry staples at a fraction of the grocery store cost. Many carry fresh produce as well. I shop at our local market for tofu, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, rice, buckwheat noodles, miso, curry paste, thai basil, ginger, daikon, and other random ingredients. You will find all of the ingredients for this recipe in your Asian market, so check it out.

Traditional Miso Soup
Makes 4 servings

4 cups water
1 3" wide piece kombu
4 tablespoons bonito flakes
1/4 block silken tofu, in small cubes
2 tablespoons wakame seaweed
4 tablespoons miso paste (white or yellow)
3 chopped scallions

Heat the water and kombu in a soup pot on medium. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the kombu with tongs, and add the bonito flakes. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the broth through a mesh strainer and into a medium glass bowl. Discard the bonito flakes and pour the broth back into the pot. Add the tofu and wakame, simmer for 5 minutes. It is important not to boil the soup at any point, as it will destroy the flavor.

Ladle about a cup of the broth into a small bowl and add the miso. Whisk the mixture until smooth, and then add back into the broth. Simmer for 3 more minutes, then add scallions and serve hot with chopsticks.

Miso soup is delicious just like this, but you can also turn it into a meal by adding any combination of veggies, grains, and protein. I love to add cubed sweet potatoes, grilled tofu, spinach, carrots, shitake mushrooms, brown rice, or kale. Go crazy!


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