Miso is one of those foods that has been around for what seems like forever. Originally prepared and eaten in China and Japan as far back as the 4th Century BC, miso has quite the history. It is used widely in macrobiotic cooking and has many health and nutritional benefits. Unpasteurized miso is a living fermented food that contains healthy probiotics such as lactobacillus and enzymes for digestion. Because of the live active flora it is high in absorbable b-vitamins and helps support the immune system. Miso has an unmistakable flavor and is very salty. It can be used to enhance savory raw food dishes and a little goes a long way. Miso is often times made from a base of ground soybeans and rice and then cultured. Many other varieties can be found as well such as miso made from chickpeas, azuki beans, millet and barley. Soy and barley miso tend to be darker, richer and more salty, whereas chickpea miso is sweeter, much less salty and works great in salad dressings, dips, marinades, and raw vegan cheeses. Chickpea and brown rice miso are my favorite varieties for making miso soup, which can become a great staple in a balanced raw diet during the winter months. One of the most simple ways of preparing miso soup is to take a tablespoon of miso, a tablespoon of raw creamy sesame tahini, and blend this together with a cup or so of very warm water. You can then add to this crushed garlic and ginger, other herbs and spices of your liking, and veggies. Hardier greens like winter chard, kale and collards can be chopped finely and let stew in the warm broth to soften and make easier to chew and digest. Avocado makes a lovely addition to this soup as well, making it more filling and creamier. Try also adding soaked seeds like sunflower and pumpkin to add protein, healthy fats, and a satisfying crunchy texture.
This miso and tahini soup broth can act as a base for a variety of different soup creations and flavors. Add cayenne pepper for an even spicier kick and to create more heat within the body on a cold day. Add curry powder or tumeric for an East Indian flair. Instead of using plain water, try making a nut milk from truly raw cashews, blended with a chunk of lemongrass, and strained through a nut milk bag, then add your miso. This creates a delicious thai inspired miso soup broth that can be gently warmed on a stove top. You’ll be surprised how well many different culinary flavors blend with the flavor of miso. You’ll find that sea vegetables go extremely well with miso soup too. Nori, dulse, sea spaghetti and sea palm all taste delicious in miso broth and add a hefty dose of minerals. The warmth of the broth will also help soften the more tough sea veggies such as the sea palm, much like it does with hearty greens.
One of the best brands of miso out there for someone looking for the highest quality unpasteurized, organic miso is South River Miso. Look for it in your local health food store or co-op, or order online at southrivermiso.com. Try their Dandelion Leek and Garlic Red Pepper varieties which are unique and totally delicious.
Get cozy during the chilly season with raw, living miso soups that tantalize the taste buds and bring warmth and nourishment to the body.