The holidays are (almost) officially over… phew! In the past 5 days, Chris and I have celebrated 4 Christmases and a birthday in 3 different states. Nothing to complain about of course, but that all amounts to a LOT of eating! So while discussing dinner on our drive home today in a car stuffed with cookies and chocolates (in between mouthfulls of trail mix of course, from one of our gifts) we decided we wanted something on the lighter side for dinner. I also noted that it would be a great soup day, considering the sheets of rain that haven’t let up for the past 8 hours, and I remembered a segment from some morning show the other day about hearty healthy immune boosting soups for the winter. There was one that we really wanted to make, a shiitake-miso soup, but after searching for that recipe on my iphone for over half an hour, I gave up and decided to wing it and make my own based on some of the ingredients we already had. You can enjoy this on a cold rainy day, or if you’re catching your annual winter dose of yuck — which, amazingly enough, knock on wood, I haven’t caught this year! I don’t know if it’s the flu shot or the not having finals anymore to wear me down, but I’ll take it. And this soup will help. The mushrooms contain phytochemicals which lower cholesterol and have even been shown to have anti-cancer properties, and an active compound called lentinan that revs up your immune system. The seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food, in addition to reducing the body’s inflammatory response and also being an anti-cancer food. So here we have it, my own version of shiitake-miso soup:
In a large pot, sauté 1 bunch of chopped scallions, 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger, and 3-4 cloves chopped garlic in 1 tbsp sesame oil for about 1 minute. Add to that about 3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced. (You can also use dried shiitakes instead of fresh but make sure to soak them according to the package directions first). Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat and then add 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock and 3 cups water and about 2 1/2 tbsp white miso. Next add about 4 bunches of chopped baby bok choy, and about 6 strips of kombu (kombu is a type of kelp; you can find it at most Asian-run grocery stores near the dried seaweed). Finally, add some bonito flakes or 1-2 tbsp furikake rice seasoning with 2 tsp fish sauce (these are rough guidelines, but do it according to your taste). Simmer for about half an hour, and then remove the kombu strips and throw them away (they’re only for flavoring). Add a 14 oz block of firm tofu, cubed, and I also added a spoonful of sambal oelek red chili paste for a little heat. Serve with nori strips for a little extra delicious flavor, and a dash of sriracha or soy sauce if you like.