Food has the power to heal, a concept that is close to my heart, as a graduate of the Chef’s Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. During my year of culinary study I learned about the expansive and contractive property of foods, or the yin and yang, if you will. Ever notice when you drink wine, or eat a bunch of sugar you feel “spaced out?” Or when you eat a lot of cheese or red meat you feel tight and lethargic. In the culinary world I use this macrobiotic principle to determine which whole foods to prepare for a balancing meal.
During Cakes and Pies month at The Natural Gourmet Institute, my entire class fell wildly out of balance. We tasted everything we made which meant eating sugar for almost every meal of the day in large quantities. During that month it was a challenge for all of us to stay intellectually focused despite starches and sugars as our mind’s only fuel. That’s where this miso soup comes in. I was first introduced to this recipe on a particularly sugar infused day, where we had to convert cookies from their original recipes to healthier versions. Making a big pot of this Asian elixir was an integral part of the class. It was the chosen antidote to expansive, acid-forming sugar and flour.
A bowl of alkalizing miso soup, chock-full of vegetables, live with digestive enzymes and rich in minerals from seaweed, is the perfect balance for a sugar high. When I ate it, I could actually feel myself “come down” almost immediately and re-focus on the task at hand.
Now I didn’t invent miso soup – and I didn’t even re-invent it. This recipe is one of my fondest from my instructor at culinary school because of how it worked its magic, soothing my sugar-induced nausea and confusion. So in sharing one of my favorite recipes with you, I hope you will use it during your own holiday bake-a-thons, gingerbread frosting ceremonies, Chrismakuh dinners and the like, to rebalance the overly expansive property sugar consequently has on our systems. This recipe is incredibly easy and delicious, and should take under 45 minutes to make.
Healing Miso Soup
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil (NOT toasted)
- 1 onion, sauté slice
- 1 carrot, matchstick
- 2 ribs (pieces) celery, diagonal slice
- 8-10 shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 piece of kombu
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup wakame, soaked 15 minutes and drained
- ¼ cup arame, soaked 15 minutes and drained
- ½ lb. tofu, diced
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- Ginger juice to taste
- Lemon juice, to taste
- 1 cup (or more) miso of choice
- Scallions, sliced, for garnish
1. Heat oil in a 3-quart pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, shitakes, garlic, kombu, and salt. Sweat for approximately 15 minutes on low heat, covered.
2. Add wakame, arame, and tofu. Continue to sweat for another 10 minutes.
3. Add water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Let broth stand for 5-10 minutes. Add ginger and lemon juice.
4. Temper miso mixing with 2 cups of the broth. Add tempered miso back into the soup. Serve, garnished with scallions.
*kombu, wakame, and arame are all sea veggies you can find in any Asian Market or the Asian section of your local Whole Foods.
This soup reminds me of a simple, profound truth: whole foods have a power to restore balance, to heal – if we know how to use them. As a chef and NGI grad, just ask me how to cure an upset stomach, nausea, bloating, a headache, a hangover, insomnia, a sugar binge, and I can give you an effective food remedy. Food and healing – it’s my thing.
Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy holiday.