I want to give some extra love to the miso paste and the white pepper in this soup.
One of my favorite super foods! Miso paste is an ancient fermented food that originated in China, 2,500 years ago, but is commonly thought of as a Japanese staple food. Miso paste is a made by fermenting beans and/or grains for months to years, depending on the type of miso you end up with. I love fermented foods for many reasons…one is that they are a sustainable way to preserve, in the case of miso, your bean or grain of choice.
I also love the health benefits that arise from the fermentation process. Fermentation uses earth energy to transform a plant food into a living health food, by decomposing the plant and turning it into something new. Fermented foods are chock full of good bacteria (probiotics), that help us to bring life and energy to our intestines, and are beneficial in helping our digestive systems break down and assimilate nutrients from our foods. If you think about the word pro-bitoic, or pro-living things, it makes sense that fermented foods are being touted for their ability to heal our guts in a world that is rampant with an antibiotic or anti-living things philosophy. It is a deep philosophical statement to choose to eat fermented foods, to choose to build good life in your body, rather than strip the "bad" away. Whether or not you want to go on the philosophy journey with me, know that miso is delicious--and that is a good enough reason to enjoy it!
Miso has an earthy, soothing umami flavor, which translates to “deliciousness” in Japanese or "pleasant savory taste”. This is a flavor that is difficult to find in our standard diet, but our bodies crave it! Finding ways to balance our intake of flavors is a good way to ward off cravings—which typically have us grabbing for packaged sweets or oily, salty snacks.
Eat miso when wanting something warm, comforting or salty. The Earth qualities of miso mean that is is a grounding, stabilizing, nourishing food to eat. Great at times when feeling ill, anxious, or “flighty”.
When buying miso, be sure to get the unpasteurized paste that will be in a glass jar or plastic tub in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. The unpasteurized miso will still be teeming with those good gut bugs-the lactobacillus, and you want those!
When it comes to color, the lighter the miso, the lighter and sweeter the flavor. The deeper in color the more robust the flavor. I encourage you to experiment with different types to discover how YOU miso!
For this soup we will use a light and sweet white miso, and we will stir a shot of it into the main stock, right at the end. By not "cooking" the miso, we are preserving the good bacteria that are alive in there!