Sunday, January 20, 2013

(almost) Instant Soup

Did you know that in roughly the time it takes to open a can, pour the contents into a saucepan and heat it to a simmer, you could have prepared a tasty, nutritious and low-sodium soup from scratch? Such is the wonder of miso.

Many groceries sell instant miso packaged in little cups to which hot water is added. This is certainly a nice convenience for the office, but if you have access to a stove, you can make your own in about the same time it would take to heat the water.

Miso, a fermented soybean paste popular in Japanese cooking, can often be found in the produce section of the grocery, although at my favorite food co-op it is kept in the dairy case. While the price for a jar or tub may seem expensive, a little goes a long way. Depending on the variety and your taste preference, as little as a teaspoon can adequately flavor a cup of broth.

Miso Soup
I'm partial to the miso produced by the South River Miso Company, which can be purchased online or in some natural food stores. The company sells several varieties of miso, traditional and more boldly-flavored. My favorites are garlic red pepper and dandelion leek. Kept in the refrigerator, an opened jar will last indefinitely.

To make the soup pictured, I diced a carrot, a rib of celery and a slice of onion, sautéed them in about a teaspoon of coconut oil, added a cup and a half of water and brought it to a simmer, tossed in a handful of baby spinach and let it wilt. After removing the pot from the heat, I stirred in about 2 tablespoons of garlic red pepper miso. That's it! In less than 5 minutes, I had a delicious, filling, healthy, low-calorie and inexpensive lunch (2 points for those on WW).

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