Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Miso Soup of sorts

I have now been feeling sickly for nine days. 9. More than a week. It's driving me crazy.

In fact, bonkers, might be a better term (remember that cartoon?). The thing is, I am never sick. And when I am, it takes my body about a day or two to bounce back. So I am not sure what is going on, but I'm not happy about it.

However, it does give me a chance to really step back and consciously choose my diet to support my immune system. The key to immune support starts with optimizing digestion, as the majority of our immune system lives in our gut, ready to ward off an invaders that try to come in. So chewing thoroughly, avoiding high-allergen foods (gluten, dairy, peanuts etc.), and listening to your body are all super important. And then there are all the immune-boosters that lie out there in the natural food world: mushrooms (shitakes, maitakes, reishis), miso, citrus fruits and sea vegetables.

I have been making lots of fresh juices out of oranges, lemons and pineapple (I juice the cores), with some cilantro for detoxifying and kale for it's chlorophyll. I have also been enjoying big bowls of miso soup, as it seems to naturally incorporate so many of the immune boosters my body needs right now. I like it with a cup or so of rice for a more substantial meal, or simplified down to plain miso broth as a sipper to get me through the day.

This is the recipe I made last night with the fresh maitakes I found at City Market yesterday as well as a few tablespoons of red curry paste I had lingering in the fridge since spring rolls a few weeks back. It was perfect (maybe the highlight of my day?) so I thought I would share it with you. The curry paste deserves a blog of it's own, which will happen someday, but I'll include the recipe below for now. This is definitely worlds above what you can buy at the store, but you could always substitute Thai Kitchen's version if you had to. Or if you don't have any in the fridge, you can always go ahead and leave it out for a more traditional version.

A Thai-inspired Miso Soup
Serves 2


4 cups vegetable broth (homemade if you can!)
1 strip wakame or kelp, sliced or torn into small pieces
2 oz. fresh maitake or shitake mushroom (or 4 rehydrated dried shitakes), sliced
1/4 cup of tofu, in small cubes
2 tbs. sweet white miso
2 tbs. red miso
2 tbs. red thai curry paste, see below (optional)
1 tbs. shoyu or tamari
a handful of spinach


Heat vegetable broth, seaweed, mushrooms and tofu in a medium saucepan to a simmer. Remove from heat. Take a cup or so of hot liquid and place in a bowl with miso. Stir until miso dissolves completely. Add miso mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Cover until spinach wilts. Enjoy immediately!

Thai Curry Paste


1/4 cup chili de arbol
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1/8 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely minced
1 tsp minced cilantro stem
1 Tbs peeled and minced ginger
1/4 tsp lime zest
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced shallot
1/8 tsp course salt


Break the stems off the chilies and discard them along with the seeds. Break the chilies into pieces, place in a bowl with just enough warm water to cover. Let soak for 20 to 30 minutes. When done soaking, remove from water (reserve water) and finely chop.

Meanwhile, heat a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coriander seeds and dry roast, frequently shaking the pan or stirring until they release their smell and begin to change color, about 3 minutes. Transfer coriander to a bowl to cool and then repeat process with the cumin seeds, toasting for about 1 minute, and adding them to the coriander. Repeat again with the peppercorns, roasting long enough to heat them well - about 1 minute.

Grind the toasted spices in a coffee grinder and  place in a small bowl. Mince wet ingredients (lemongrass through shallot) very finely (this can be done in a small food processor) and add to spices along with the salt. To finish, pound mixture thoroughly with the back of a spoon to fully release all of the flavors. Add a little bit of the reserved water if necessary.

Yield: 1/2 cup.

Store in a well-sealed glass container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months.

Relax. Eat Well.


  1. I can't wait to make my own Thai curry paste. most likely, nothing like what comes out of a little jar. Time to start a shopping list for the coop.
    Feel better soon!

  2. Yay!!! You will be in love, and it keeps really well for several months so totally worth the effort. Now I am motivated to give you a killer recipe to use it in...

    If you can't find lemongrass at Hunger Mountain they definitely have it at Healthy Living and City Market in Btown. Worth getting the fresh stalks for sure, don't let HMC try to sell you the bottled stuff :)

    Let me know how it goes!

  3. Lisa -

    This sounds like just the right thing for your lingering cold! Eat/drink up, feel better, and start to think about how you can FedEx weekly meals down to Boston!