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Plant Based Miso Soup with Tofu

Traditional miso soup, a Japanese soup made from fermented soy bean paste (miso), has fish stock as a base.  To incorporate the rich dashi flavor without using fish products, I used Takii, a mushroom stock powder.  I’ve also added cooked vegetables such as carrots, corn, diced zucchini or any seasonal vegetables to make this soup more of a meal.  If you prefer a simpler soup, just leave out the vegetables or if you don’t have or like tofu, leave it out.  If you are not 100% plant based, an egg can be added and poached in the soup liquid for a few minutes.

4 cups water

1 teaspoon takii (mushroom stock powder)

1 cup cooked vegetables (such as slivered snow peas, green beans, carrots, corn, sweet potato cubes, diced zucchini)

7 ounces soft tofu (1/2 block), cut into 1/3 inch cubes

3 tablespoons shiro miso (white) or a combination of red and white miso,

2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 tablespoon dried wakame, soaked in cold water for 2 minutes, then drained

 

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add the takii, if using. Add cooked vegetables of your choice. Reduce heat to a low simmer.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons miso with ¼ cup of the heated stock from the pot. Add this mixture to the simmering stock and vegetables. Add the tofu, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wakame and scallions, and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove the pot from the heat and divide equally into 4 soup bowls. Sprinkle shichimi togarashi, if desired Serve with a bowl of brown rice and additional vegetables for a complete meal.

 

Miso

Miso is a salty, fermented soybean paste. Premium craft miso in Japan is made from organically grown soybeans, grains, sea salt and spring water. First, rice or barley is steamed in a huge steel pressure cooker, and a fermentation starter, koji mold, is applied. The mixture is then left for the koji to multiply. Soybeans are soaked and steamed in the pressure cooker. The grain and beans are then mashed together, and mixed with sea salt and spring water. The mixture is then left in a wooden barrel to ferment for 12 months.   Several types of miso are used in different preparations, with the darker miso, brown or red, having a higher salt content than the sweeter, milder shiro miso (white miso). Miso of every type has outstanding nutritional value. The process of fermenting soybeans to make miso breaks down soy protein into peptides and amino acids, forms that can quickly be absorbed in our bodies. This may be why the traditional Okinawan or Japanese diet—a bowl of brown rice, a bowl of miso soup, and a plate of vegetables—provided a sufficient diet for centuries.  There are many brands of miso and one of my favorites is Miso Master Organic mellow white miso.  It’s available at Whole Foods, Central Market and other markets.

 

Tofu

Also know as bean curd, is made by coagulating soy milk (made from soaking, grinding, boiling and straining soybeans) and then pressing the curds into blocks. Tofu is relatively high in protein with approximately 9 grams of protein for 3 ounces. Tofu comes in various levels of firmness from silken to extra firm.

 

Wakame

Wakame is an edible sea vegetable (seaweed) with a delicate, briny flavor. Wakame is a superfood, packed with antioxidants and essential nutrients. Wakame contains manganese, magnesium, calcium, sodium, folate and traces of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. It is sold in dried form and easily reconstituted in cold water.

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