Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Quick, Loaded-with-Vitamins, Miso Soup

It's amazing how quickly one can move from feeling perfectly healthy to feeling like death. That transition period, when you're just beginning to get sick, always feels like a crucial moment when you can control whether you're actually going to go through the illness or if you're going to be able to avoid it.

Whether that's true or not, I have no idea. What I do know is that, upon waking up with sore lungs and a cough, I needed something warming and easy to make that would, at the very least, make me believe that I was getting tons of vitamins and minerals.

Miso soup, loaded with wakame, seemed like the best option.

Because I was feeling lazy, I didn't bother with making my own dashi broth; I just reached for a package of the powdered stuff.

If you're going to get powdered dashi, be sure to get the stuff that's MSG free. You don't need that gunking up your system.

I'm not going to bother with a full on recipe here, because one of the great things about miso soup is that you can make it as minimalist as you like. I will say though, that I used 3 cups of water to a ½ package of the dashi powder.

Here's what I opted to put in:

Clockwise from bottom left: wakame (seaweed, one green onion, a dollop of miso, dried shiitake mushroom, 3 sliced, fresh mushrooms

Because I had opted to go with powder, I wanted to bump up the flavour of the broth. That's where the dried shiitake came in. I threw it into the broth to simmer for 10 minutes while I was boiling the water for the wakame. This both infused the broth with a mushroomy undertone and softened the mushroom up so I could slice and add it to the soup at the end.

Wakame is usually sold dried and looks a lot like big tea leaves. You must reconstitute it. DO NOT eat it dry. I remember hearing a story about a woman who once ate dried wakame and her stomach exploded because it swelled up in side her.

True story.

Okay, maybe not, but the stuff does expand like crazy. So, to avoid death by seaweed, pour boiling water over it, and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. It'll quadruple in bulk.


Before reconstitution
And then (mind the steam)...

After reconstitution
Once the shiitake are tender, remove and slice. Return it to the pot along with all the other ingredients except the miso.

Ready to add
Remove a little of the dashi to a separate bowl and whisk in the miso until smooth. Add to pot and stir. Serve immediately.

We ate our with a couple of rice balls (salmon wakame and green onion wakame) and an umeboshi (pickled plum).

Here's hoping that's enough to fight off illness!

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