Slowing down…and Miso-Vegetable Soup

A good percentage of my family was home for most of last week with the chicken pox, or taking care of people with the chicken pox.  While this might sound like something less than desireable, it was really a wonderful blessing.  It made me think about our culture and the fact that we have very few natural opportunities to slow down and just be with ourselves these days.  We have phones and email that go everywhere we do, so that car rides and hikes are always in danger of becoming conferences and business meetings rather than opportunities for reflection.  We have machines that dry our clothes, so that most of us don’t have that quiet time outside hanging them on the line.  We have vaccinations that keep us and our children from getting sick, so that we don’t have to take time from work or out of our normal life to be home recuperating.  Of course, the benefits of all of these things are many and I would never argue that, but they also come at a cost.

Being at home without any thoughts of leaving gave us time to be together, as well as time to be with alone with each of ourselves.  After two days, I felt a shift in my body, and my mind opened to a presence that has alluded me for at least the last few months.  Now that everyone is better, it’s a little hard for all of us to think about getting back into the fray.  We truly enjoyed each other in a way that we sometimes don’t when we have so many other things coming at us – work, playdates, getting to the bus on time.   

So, while I know that the week to come will bring rushing and arguing and traffic and everything else that comes with a normal week, I hope to retain some of the calm, connectedness that we’ve experienced in the past week.  I think I’ll turn my phone off more.  It’s finally warm and sunny enough to hang my laundry again.  I might even pull out my book for a few minutes in the middle of the day, and take the time to meditate.  And, I know that I’ll put other things aside to sit with my children more and appreciate some quiet with them amidst the fray…

Here is a recipe that has served us well in the past week, and will continue to serve us well when we want to devote our time and energy to other things, but still eat a nourishing meal.  Miso soup doesn’t have to be any more than miso, water, and seaweed, but even as a more elaborate soup, it’s simple and quick to make and will cooperate with whatever you have in your refrigerator. 

You can use whatever type of miso you want, and the amounts you use will depend on the type and your preference for the strength of the soup.  Do be aware, though, that some types of miso contain gluten.  For those who avoid soy, you can use soy-free chickpea miso and skip the tofu, maybe adding some beans for protein.  I now that aduki bean miso is also available, though I haven’t come across it in Boulder yet. 

One important note is that you never want to boil miso, as it’s a live food and too much heat destroys the beneficial enzymes. 

  • 1 Tablespoon oil (I use olive oil for everything, but you could also use sesame oil, coconut oil, or your favorite cooking oil)
  • 1 small onion, minced (or when scallions are in season, use those)
  • 1/2 pound tofu, cubed (I prefer to freeze my tofu, then thaw and press before use, but that is optional)
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 cups chopped greens (cabbage, spinach, chard – whatever you choose)
  • 1/4 cup wakame flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari, or more to taste ( or salt)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 3-4 Tablespoons red miso
  • 3-4 Tablespoons mellow white miso
  • dash of toasted sesame oil
  • optional additions: very thinly sliced potato, cooked grains or noodles, frozen peas, sesame seeds, chopped parsley or cilantro, to garnish

Heat a soup pot to medium heat, then add the olive oil and, after about 30 seconds, add the onions.  Cook until soft and lightly browned, then add the tofu and continue to cook undisturbed until it’s lightly browned on the first side.  Flip it around and brown the second side.  Add the carrots and greens and cook until they begin to soften.  Add the wakame, water, and salt or tamari, bring to a boil, and continue to cook until the carrots are soft.  Turn the heat off and ladle some of the broth into a bowl.  Add the miso to the hot broth, stir to dissolve, then add back into the soup.  Add more miso and/or salt/tamari to taste and add a splash of toasted sesame oil.  Garnish as desired.  Sit, take a deep breath, and enjoy!

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3 Comments »

  1. wow,,, glad you made it thru,, I LOVE your posting, and will cherish the energy behind it all!

    _Tracy

  2. Cheri said

    Hi Julia,
    remind me again about how you do your tofu. You freeze it and then press it?
    so should i just throw the package into the freezer and then thaw and then press? Does this give it a more thick consistency kind of like the grilled tofu at whole foods (prepared foods)?
    x

    • adaba said

      I bring it home from the store and stick it straight into the freezer. Then, when I know I’m going to use it, I thaw it (in warm water, if necessary) right in the package. When it’s thawed, I gently squeeze as much water out as possible and go from there…if you are really in a rush to thaw it, put the package in warm water long enough to loosen it from the package, then stick the whole block in a pot, cover with water, and boil it until it’s thawed. I have never gotten the tofu to be quite as firm as what you get at Whole Foods, but it does firm up quite a bit and it absorbs flavors much better this way. Happy cooking:)

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