Wednesday, June 29

Soup for Supper in SUMMER?

Sure, why not? You may think soup is just for the cooler months, but even if you aren't interested in the wonderful array of cold soups available in summer (gazpacho, cantaloupe, pea and mint, just to name a few!), there are plenty of ways to whip up a pot of comforting, soothing warm soup in summer without sending the heat index through the roof. One of my favorites is a simple miso soup with root vegetables and greens. Miso soup is light and brothy and won't weigh you down, and yet by virtue of the fact that it is made with miso paste, seaweed, and often root vegetables, energetically speaking it is incredibly grounding and stabilizing- and that's some energy we can all use in the busy, active summertime. This is the perfect thing to make for someone who is on the mend either from an illness or a surgery (the firming, contracting energies of these ingredients actually help us to "come back together"), and is also just the ticket on a day when you need something soothing, relaxing, and comforting- perhaps after an active and busy day of running around engaging in summer fun, or to counteract a recent indulgence in sweets or alcohol, both of which are refined therefore energetically create a spike and crash in the body's energy, making us feel uprooted and unstable as opposed to grounded and steady. To benefit from all of that grounding energy while also keeping things light and relaxed, I like to add a few handfuls of chopped greens to a miso soup, which provide an uplifting energy that is flexible and expansive yet mellow and balanced. To make it a complete meal, simply add a protein such as cubes of tofu or tempeh or pieces of mild white fish, and serve it alongside some cooked brown rice or other grain or with some nice crusty whole grain bread. Follow the recipe below for a mellow, comforting soup that will soothe your heart and soul without overheating you this summer!

3-4 cups fresh water
1- 1 1/2 tablespoons miso
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and sliced into thin rounds
1/2 medium daikon radish, scrubbed and cut into thin half-moons or quarters (if daikon isn't available, use regular red radish chopped into thin rounds)
1/2 large sheet of kombu seaweed, torn or broken into small pieces (if the seaweed is tough, soak for 10 minutes and drain beforehand)
2-3 handfuls of kale or collard greens, washed well and chopped into thin slivers

1/2 block tofu or tempeh, cut into small cubes OR several ounces mild, flaky white fish (optional)
several shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dried, chopped into pieces or thin slices (optional)
1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil (optional)

Bring water to a boil, then add all ingredients except for miso and kale/collard greens (including . mushrooms and tofu/tempeh if using- if using fish, do not add yet). Turn down to medium-low heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes until broth has become fragrant and root vegetables and seaweed are becoming tender. If using fish, cooked white fish or thin pieces of raw white fish can be added at this point to this lightly bubbling broth- simmer until fish is cooked. When all ingredients have cooked, add leafy greens and continue to cook covered on medium-low heat only a few more moments until the greens wilt and become tender.

At this point, turn off heat completely, and with a ladle or cup remove a small amount of the hot broth into a cup or small bowl. Dilute the 1 tablespoon of miso into this removed broth, mix and mash well to dilute completely. Then add this diluted miso and broth back into the pot and stir, so that all flavors combine. The reason for this step is that the miso will not dilute well if added directly to the larger amount of broth and vegetables. Taste the soup and add a little more miso using the same dilution method if a stronger, saltier taste is desired, remembering not to add too much- miso is a powerfully healthful ingredient meant to be used in small doses. Once the miso has added, do not ever bring the soup back to a boil as it will destroy the positive active bacteria that a great health benefit of fermented miso. The soup is now ready to serve, and if serving this as a main meal, I like to add a light swirl of unrefined sesame oil and mix throughout in order to impart some healthy fat and depth of flavor to the soup- skip this step if serving this soup with other, richer or fattier dishes in a meal or if serving it as a simple appetizer.

Either bolstered with some protein and served alongside some fluffy brown rice as a full meal, or enjoyed in its simplest form as a light vegetable soup, this soup is sure to make you feel good all over- and it is the perfect balancing note for a busy, celebratory summer holiday! Eat up and enjoy in good health!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

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