Miso? Dashi? Bok Choy? With these healthy goodies, this Miso Soup with Shrimp, Shiitake and Bok Choy is like dropping a serious health bomb inside your body. Even though there are plenty of health benefits related to eating miso soup, there are also some pretty negative reviews out there about its lack of flavor. Don’t believe them! Miso soup is only as good as you make it, literally. And it’s super simple to make too.
To be totally honest, I wasn’t exactly wowed by the traditional recipe. The big negative for me was the tofu. That’s right, I’m not a big tofu fan and I doubt anyone out there is gasping in surprise. I would bet even those of you who say that you like it, would still put it last on your list of ten million favorite foods. When waiting tables in a Chinese restaurant in college I found that deep-fried tofu is the only good tofu…and if you’re eating tofu for your health, deep-frying it kind of defeats the purpose. So of course, I had to break a bit with tradition and add a dash of this and that to satisfy my taste buds.
I’m sure you’re wondering, what the heck is miso anyway? Miso is a fermented soybean paste. Doesn’t sound all that great does it? But let me tell you why it is. First, it’s fermented. And like with all other fermented foods, such as Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Kefir, Kombucha, etc., it provides great probiotics, aka good bacteria, for your gut. Miso’s fermentation also reduces the anti-nutrients that are typically found in the soybeans that it’s made from, so that your body can absorb more of the soybeans nutritional goodness.
Miso has been studied for its cancer fighting properties as well. In a recent study, Japanese researcher Hiromitsu Watanabe from the Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine at Hiroshima University confirms the power of miso to prevent radiation injury. His study also documents the ability of miso to prevent many forms of cancer (colon, liver, breast, lung and stomach), as well as hypertension. It seems the longer the fermentation time the better at fighting cancer it becomes. If that doesn’t convince you to try it, I’m not sure what else would.
Miso is an all-out rock star in the superfood group, but it is nothing without dashi. If Miso is the sun then dashi is the sky. Dashi is a traditional Japanese seafood stock. What makes Dashi super special though is that kombu is one of the main ingredients. Kombu is a type of kelp which is full of essential vitamins such as vitamins K, iodine, calcium, magnesium and iron. Yet another important reason to add Kombu to your diet is for the enzymes. Kombu contains enzymes that aid in digestion. These specific enzymes can break down raffinose sugars in beans which cause that bloated gassy feeling. Remember what Miso is made from? Right, soybeans! That’s why dashi and miso are a match made in heaven.
And then there is bok choy. It’s a cruciferous vegetable like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips. Need I say more. It’s low in calories, high in nutrients and off the charts in antioxidants.
So, there you have it, everything you could possibly want from a healthy meal. KABOOM!
Before you start you’ll need to gather your ingredients. First, you will need some dashi. Either you can make your own, using my dashi recipe, ↓
or use an instant dashi powder like this one → Luxury Bonito and Kombu Dashi Powder (Bonito and Kombu Soup Stock Powder) by Yamaki.
And then there’s the miso paste. Red miso paste is most often used for miso soup, but I used a hatcho (sometimes spelled hacho) miso. What’s the difference?
The main difference between the two is that hatcho miso is made without grains where as white, and sometimes red misos, are combined with some type of grain such as rice or barley. This makes hatcho miso about 80% higher in protein. The flavor varies slightly between misos. Hatcho is more on the medium scale when it comes to sweetness versus salty, with white miso being the sweetest and red miso is most salty. Also, hatcho and red miso are fermented longer compared to white and yellow miso. Most often, the darker the miso, the longer it has been fermented. Look at the rich, dark color of this hatcho miso I’m getting ready to throw in this soup.
What’s left? Just some vegetable broth and these other beautiful ingredients that you’re going to set sail in this impressively healthful soup.
The shrimp look amazing right? Of course they’re straight from the coast of North Carolina. I picked them up from our local Fresh Market along with the hatcho miso, baby bok choy, green onions and shiitake mushrooms. It’s a great resource for local, fresh foods and hard to find ingredients. It was also started right here in nearby Greensboro, so definitely a win-win for supporting our local food resources.