Saturday, February 18, 2012

Miso Udon Soup

Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of piping hot miso soup. 

Miso is a paste made from soybeans, sea salt, koji (a mold starter) and is sometimes mixed with barley, rice or other grains. It is allowed to ferment from three months to three years, which produces an enzyme rich food. Miso is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. It aids in digestion and contains beneficial probiotics. It is also high in vitamin B12, protects against radiation, boosts immunity, lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of developing breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer.

Add some vegetables, mushrooms, a little tofu and some udon noodles and you got yourself a nutrient dense bowl of deliciousness.

You can adapt this recipe to whatever you have on hand.  Sometimes I'll leave out the tofu or udon and pack it full of vegetables like carrot, daikon radish, kale, snowpeas, mung bean sprouts and mushrooms. Seaweeds, like arame or wakame are great and pack a huge nutritional punch. I prefer a lighter miso, like chickpea or mellow white, but when there are so many varieties, why limit yourself to just one?
Get creative and experiment!

Miso Udon Soup (makes one biiiiig bowl)
* the amounts here are all rough estimates. Use as little or as much of each ingredient depending on personal preference.

3 c. water
2 T. miso
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 c. tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2-1 oz. udon noodles
3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 scallions, sliced
2 handfuls of baby spinach
crushed red pepper flakes (opt)
chili-sesame oil or toasted sesame oil (opt)

Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.
Place the water, grated ginger and garlic in the same pot you cooked your noodles in.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the tofu. Let simmer 2-3 minutes.  Put the miso in a small bowl. Ladel 1/2 c. of simmering water into the bowl with the miso and whisk until combined. Add the miso back into the pot and add the shiitake mushrooms. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to let the soup boil (it will kill off all of the beneficial bacteria and nutrients in the miso). Remove from the heat, add the spinach and let sit for a minute to wilt.  When ready to serve, place the udon noodles in the bottom of your biggest soup bowl. Pour the miso soup on top and garnish with scallions.  Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a drizzle of chili-sesame oil (or toasted sesame oil), if desired.

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