Oh boy oh boy. Everyone is sick. And if you have young kids, or know people who do, then you know 'tis the season to be on the merry-go-round of seemingly endless illness for the next 4 months. Booo! So, I offer you some cold and flu season comfort. The ingredients are both soothing (for when you are sick) and protective (for when you aren't--but are in the danger zone!)
The real magic of this bad boy come from the stock. Pictured below are the superstars in this soups: Miso paste, fresh ginger root, an insane amount of garlic, and the often overlooked white peppercorn.
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!
White pepper berries come from the same vine as the familiar black peppercorns, but are harvested later and processed slightly differently. For white pepper, the hull of the berry is removed - the outer black “shell”. Check out that g o r g e o u s illustration at right. The cross-section of the berry on the left side of he drawing clearly illustrates that black hull.
With the hull much of the biting spice is removed from the peppercorn. Instead, white pepper has a more floral taste and has the most beautiful warming quality when eaten - rather than an overt spiciness. You will notice this right away in the soup broth, and I think that is what makes it so special: It warms the chest and belly without spicing out the tongue.
I like to eat this soup when it is hot hot hot. Like mouth burning, chest radiating, nose running kind of hot. It just feels more healing that way!
I hope you enjoy this delicious soup, and this season leaves you well and full of vitality!
Immunity Boost Soup
This spicy, healing, power-house of soup is great anytime, but especially when needing some added protection during cold + flu season.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 medium carrot, diced
- 8 -10 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced or crushed
- 3 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 turnip or daikon radish, diced
- 1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, wiped and trimmed (I used chantrelles)
- 1 small head broccoli, chopped into pieces
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons white miso paste
- For garnish: fresh scallions - finely chopped, cilantro finely-chopped, radish-thinly sliced (pictured are watermelon radish)
- Heat a heavy soup pot over high heat.
- Stir in the oil, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and ginger.
- Gently sauté just until soft, but not browned. Add a bit of water if the pan drys out.
- Stir in the white pepper and 8 - 10 cups of water.
- Turn up the heat to bring the broth to a simmer, and hold there for about 15 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, broccoli, and salt, and gently simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Prepare the miso by stirring the miso paste into approximately 1/2 cup water to dissolve. Set aside.
- After 5 minutes, stir the soup well, taste, and adjust with more salt, pepper or water if needed.
- Turn off heat.
- Ladle the soup into shallow soup bowls and drizzle about a teaspoon of the miso mixture into the broth.
- Top with a big dollop of green onions, cilantro, and a few watermelon radish slices. Fresh and crisp garnish rocks the heck out of most soups!