Miso Soup Bar with Jenni Kayne and ripplustan.com

Miso Soup Bar with Jenni Kayne | pamela salzman

I have always been a huge fan of a toppings bar for several reasons.  I’ve noticed my kids tend to eat more of whatever I’m serving when they can control what goes on their plate.  I also think it’s so much more fun when your guests can participate in and interact over the meal.  Lastly, preparing a topping bar ahead of time allows the cook (me and you) to be free and enjoy themselves rather than worrying about timing everything perfectly and accommodating everyone’s different dietary restrictions.

miso soup bar with jenni kayne and pamela salzman

I have shown on this site topping bars for everything from oatmeal to baked potatoes, from salads to tacosJenni Kayne was telling me one day about her ski trip and how much she loved the soup bar at the ski lodge for lunch.  Let’s do a Miso Soup Bar post!  Great idea!  Today’s post is also up on her fantastic blog Rip + Tan, too.  We shot this at Jenni’s amazing house after a class one day.  Of course she had a few dozen perfect bowls to use for all the ingredients!

Miso soup is so healing, really easy to make and my whole family loves it.  Miso paste has a rich, savory, umami-like quality about it.  But I am pretty particular about what kind of miso to buy, so please read my tips.

·      Miso is fermented so therefore it contains healthy bacteria which helps our digestive system and immune system.

·      It is a complete protein and contains all of the essential amino acids.

·      High in antioxidants, so it is anti-aging (yay!)

·      Miso is alkalizing to our cells and tissues.

·      It contains linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps you maintain beautiful healthy skin.

·      The isoflavones in miso can help regulate hormones.

·      The sodium in miso does not have a negative affect on the cardiovascular system like table salt does.

·      There is an acid present in miso called zybicolin that helps detoxify the body and eliminate elements taken in through pollution, radioactivity, and artificial chemicals in our soil and foods.

·      Miso is a good source of the B12 vitamin, which is a B vitamin most commonly found in fish and land animals, so important for vegetarians and vegans.

miso

Here are some do’s and don’ts for buying and preparing miso:

DO:

  • Buy organic or at least non-GMO (genetically-modified organism) since the main ingredient is soybeans which are almost always GMO, unless certified organic.
  • Buy miso that is naturally fermented (look on the label to make sure there is a bacteria, on the list of ingredients).  Fermented soy is much easier to digest then non-fermented and fermented foods, in general, increase the concentration of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Probiotic organisms aid in digestion, and also play an important role in maintaining and strengthening the immune system.
  • Buy unpasteurized miso, so it’s live.
  • Substitute miso for dairy products such as parmesan (but leave out the salt in the recipe) cheese.  See this pesto recipe as an example
  • Store in your fridge for months, even a year and a half!

DON’T:

  • Boil miso- it will destroy the live enzymes.  Always add miso at the last minute, off the heat.
  • Assume miso is gluten free- it often can contain barley and/or other gluten grains.  Check ingredients.
  • Buy miso outside the refrigerated case at the supermarket.  It won’t be live.  Unpastuerized, and therefore refrigerated, miso contains live good bacteria, which help your body assimilate nutrients from food.

Different types of miso: The different colors of miso are related to how long the miso was fermented and the composition of ingredients (usually rice or barley).   White miso is fermented for the shortest period of time and has the lightest/sweetest flavor, followed by yellow, and then red.  Brown miso has fermented for the longest period of time and has the strongest/saltiest flavor.

topping bar for miso soup | pamela salzman

For the soup bar, we had all the toppings assembled before the broth was even made since that took literally minutes to prepare.  We settled on the assortment of ingredients you see in the images.  Clockwise from the miso in the small bowl on the left:

Organic White Miso (we used Miso Masters)

Sprouted Organic Tofu (we used Wildwood Organics)

Carrots

Bean Sprouts

Soup

Wakame (seaweed)

Udon noodles

Soba noodles (100% buckwheat from Eden Organics)

enoki mushrooms (brown and white)

center:  scallions

Other great ideas for toppings include, but aren’t limited to, soft-boiled eggs, cooked shrimp or pork, shelled edamame, cabbage, spinach, bok choy.  Have fun!

miso soup bar | pamela salzman

Miso Soup
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 ¼ cups of water
  • 1 (6-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
  • 1 cup dried bonito flakes (These are smoked, dried flakes of fish. Optional, but delicious)
  • ½ cup rehydrated wakame (soak according to package directions and chop, if necessary)
  • 4 Tablespoons organic and unpasteurized miso (I use white)
  • Shoyu or tamari to taste, if desired
  • Toppings, if desired: grated carrots, thinly sliced mushrooms, scallions, baby spinach, cubes of firm tofu, cooked shrimp or pork, soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts, seaweed
Instructions
  1. Make the dashi (broth): In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and kombu to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the bonito flakes. Cover the pan and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl or another saucepan. If you are not using the stock immediately, allow to cool uncovered and then refrigerate it, covered for up to a week.
  3. Transfer all but ½ cup of stock back to the original saucepan and heat until hot.
  4. Whisk miso into the reserved ½ cup of stock until smooth. If you think you will consume all of the soup now, stir all of the miso mixture to the heated stock and serve immediately. Otherwise, add a spoonful of the miso mixture to each individual bowl and ladle hot stock on top. Add desired toppings.
Notes
Miso is a live food.  In order to preserve its beneficial enzymes, do not boil it.

 

Miso soup recipe

I think the reason I started cooking at such a young age is because I love to eat good food.  My mother was and is a terrific cook, but she didn’t have time or the interest to really experiment in the kitchen, especially outside the Italian food comfort zone that she was in.  So when I was in the mood for something that my mom didn’t know how to make, I would grab a stack of her cookbooks and a couple years worth of Gourmet Magazine and flip through until I found what I was looking for.  I could get lost for hours reading recipes and then coming up with my plan.  How much easier we have it now with the internet, although I can still get lost for hours on cooking websites!

One of the simple pleasures in life for me is finding out that something I love to eat in a restaurant is incredibly simple to make at home.  We don’t eat out very much, but the kids love their annual birthday dinner at Benihana and I look forward to sushi out with my girlfriends every now and then.  When I am at a Japanese restaurant, I love starting my meal with a comforting bowl of miso soup.  You may remember from my post on Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing how beneficial unpasteurized miso is to the digestive system as well as being a wonderful detoxifier.  Of course, I love the salty savoriness of it, too!  Many years ago I decided to figure out how to make miso soup with the preconception that it would be difficult.  For goodness sake, it’s about as easy as boiling water.  In fact, when I taught this miso soup recipe in a class a few years ago, more than one person remarked that it was easier than cooking pasta (and better for you, too!)

I typically make miso soup the way you would find it in a Japanese restaurant in the US, except for the canned fried onion crisps.  What’s up with that?  Do they add those to miso soup in Japan?  Somehow I’m doubting it.  Regardless, I always add wakame, which is an amazingly nutritious sea vegetable that you need to try if you haven’t.  It’s so high in minerals and incredibly alkalizing — go get some!  I love the wakame flakes by Eden since they rehydrate in minutes and there’s no chopping involved.  If I have tofu in the fridge, I’ll add that and perhaps some thinly sliced green onion.  The day I photographed this soup, Mr. Picky asked for soba noodles, so I tossed a few into his bowl.  Steamy Kitchen has a version with shiitake mushrooms and sliced boy choy that looks great.  Like me, she enjoys soup for breakfast!

Some of the ingredients may seem exotic or hard to find, but I assure you no good natural food store worth their sea salt doesn’t carry unpasteurized miso and a good selection of sea vegetables.  In fact, I found everything at my local Whole Foods.  The only ingredient that may throw some of you, especially my vegetarian and vegan friends is the bonito flakes, which are made from a type of mackerel that has been steamed, dried and shaved into flakes.  It adds a really cool smoky, hearty undertone to the soup.  But if it’s not your thing, I would add a drop of shoyu or simmer the stock with some dried shiitakes to make up for omitting the bonito.  No matter how you prepare it, this just might be the easiest and most healthful bowl of soup you never thought you could make.

Miso Soup
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 ¼ cups of water
  • 1 (6-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
  • 1 cup dried bonito flakes (optional, but delicious)
  • ½ cup rehydrated wakame (soak according to package directions and chop, if necessary)
  • 6 ounces firm non-GMO tofu, drained and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 Tablespoons organic and unpasteurized miso (I use white. But check labels if you need the miso to be gluten-free.)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallion greens
  • Shoyu or tamari to taste, if desired
Instructions
  1. Make the dashi (broth): In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and kombu to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the bonito flakes. Cover the pan and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl or another saucepan. If you are not using the stock immediately, allow to cool uncovered and then refrigerate it, covered for up to a week.
  3. Transfer all but ½ cup of stock back to the original saucepan and add tofu and wakame, if using, and heat until hot.
  4. Whisk miso into the reserved ½ cup of stock until smooth. If you think you will consume all of the soup now, stir all of the miso mixture to the heated stock and serve immediately. Otherwise, add a spoonful of the miso mixture to each individual bowl and ladle hot stock on top. You can add noodles to each individual bowl, if you like.
Notes
Miso is a live food. In order to preserve its beneficial enzymes, do not boil it.