Miso is a high-protein food usually made with a combination of soybeans, cultured grain, and sea salt by a unique fermentation process. In Japan, this process was elevated to fine craftsmanship much like wine making. Miso is also a medicine. Unpastuerized miso is a living food, which contains natural digestive enzymes, Lactobacillus, and other microorganisms that aid in the digestion of food and strengthen the digestive system. In 1981, The National Cancer Institute of Japan published results of a 13-year study involving 250,000 people. The study found that regular use of miso lowered the death rate from cancer, heart and liver disease. People in the study who ate no miso had a 50% higher risk of stomach cancer than those who ate miso every day. Regular use of miso is associated with promoting strong digestion, anti-aging, detoxifying, lowering cholesterol, normalizing blood pressure, preventing stroke, and neutralizing the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, atmospheric pollution, and radiation poisoning. (See The Book of Miso) All miso is made from soybeans and salt, sometimes with the addition of rice or barley. Some contain other ingredients like dandelion and leeks and the best are aged for up to three years. (See www.southrivermiso.com) Many different varieties of miso are available. You might see white miso, or red miso, for example. Usually, a darker colored miso will be stronger flavored than a lighter one. Look for miso that is unpastuerized, which means it will be refrigerated. If you're new to miso, start out with mellow white miso. For a taste treat, try South River's Dandelion Leek miso. It's a medicine in itself
6 cups of water
2 to 6 pieces of kombu (seaweed), each about 4 inches long.
a couple of handfuls of bonito flakes (dried fish flakes)
1 chopped scallion
1 piece of tofu
5 to 8 tablespoons of miso
Quick Miso Soup
Mix 1 tablespoon of miso into a cup of hot water.
Ten Minute Miso Soup
Into a pan with 6 cups of water, put 2 to 6 pieces of kombu (seaweed), each about 4 inches long.
Heat the water until just before boiling.
Remove the kombu and take the pan off the heat just before the water starts to boil.
Add a couple of handfuls of bonito flakes (dried fish flakes) to the water and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Strain through a sieve and retain liquid. Pour most of the broth back into the pan and heat on low.
Add 1 chopped scallion and 1 piece of tofu cut into small cubes to the broth.
Into the remaining liquid, add 5 to 8 tablespoons of miso, depending on your taste.
Stir miso into liquid with a whisk to blend well.
Add this mixture to the broth and stir.
Increase the heat until the soup is hot, but do not boil.
Serve at once.
Miso soup will keep fresh for about 24 hours.
The first time you make miso soup, it will seem complicated because of the new ingredients and process. But, it quickly becomes easy enough to do every morning.
You can get all of the ingredients at a natural food grocery store.