MISO VEGETABLE SOUP WITH GLUTEN-FREE RICE VERMICELLI

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I confess, I've had acid reflux (GERD) for years. Some health practitioners feel that a gluten-free diet helps reduce the symptoms of acid reflux, as does a diet without a lot of acidic foods, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods.

If you're interested in food as medicine, one of the best remedies for acid reflux is miso soup. Miso has so many health properties – it's mineral rich,  antibacterial, high in antioxidants and it's alkaline. (Ladies, it's also good for hot flashes!)  I have a cup of miso broth many mornings when my throat is feeling sore from reflux, and it helps get me through the day.

At night, when I want to go all out, I'll make a big vegetable tofu miso soup.   It's just what the doctor ordered after I've been eating badly for awhile. I used to use barley miso in the winter, because with mushroom, it made such an earthy stock, but then I realized it wasn't gluten-free (duh, barley isn't gluten-free, so why would barley miso!), so now I use white, red or chickpea miso. I'll even mix them up. I add gluten-free rice vermicelli or mung bean thread noodles to the broth to make it more filling.  If you can find kelp noodles, they're a great gluten-free alternative to the rice noodles. If you're not gluten-free, try soba or udon noodles.

Do not boil the miso!  You should stir miso into a hot broth at the very end and take it off the flame. Boiling the miso destroys its healthy properties.

 

MISO VEGETABLE SOUP WITH RICE VERMICELLI

First,  make a vegetarian dashi with kombu. (You would use bonito flakes to make a non-veggie version). Kombu is a sea vegetable that is high in minerals and a good source of  iodine. Wakame is another delicious sea vegetable. Both are rich in antioxidants.

After you've made the dashi, the idea is to add whatever ingredients you want, and then add the miso at the end, right before you serve it.  (Since the miso paste is thick, it takes a while to dissolve in the dashi,  so it's a good idea to thin the miso in water first.)

You can use silken tofu or firm tofu, whatever your preference. You can substitute snow peas for the snap peas or add edamame or broccoli as your green. Bok choy would be wonderful, too.

Make the soup stronger, by adding more miso paste. A good rule of thumb is at least a tablespoon of miso per cup of water.  Some miso pastes are stronger than others so experiment and see what you like. In the warmer months, you might prefer a milder white miso. Also, the lighter the miso, the less salty it generally is. The lighter miso is  also less aged, so they will have less depth of flavor. You can even mix the white and red together. If you want to buy miso made from soybeans that are non-GMO, make sure you buy organically grown miso.

As a finishing touch, add a squirt of sesame oil, a handful of shiso leaves, scallions or cilantro. Be creative!

 

Serves 6

 

Ingredients

6 cups water

2-3 pieces  of kombu

¼ cup wakame, soaked 5 minutes

1/3 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water

2 small .5 oz packages of rice vermicelli

½ block firm tofu

1 cup savoy cabbage or napa cabbage, shredded

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3/4-1 cup white miso paste (or more to taste)

Garnish with snap peas, diced on the diagonal

Optional: Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, gomasio, cilantro or shiso leaves

Optional: Squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving

Optional: A squirt of toasted sesame oil

 

Boil the kombu in the water very slowly or soak overnight at room temperature. This will be your dashi stock.  Remove the kombu when finishing the preparation of the broth.

Soak 1/4 cup wakame in hot water for 15 minutes.

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15 mintues.

Soak the rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles in hot water for about 15-20 minutes.

Cut a ½ block of tofu and dice it into  one inch cubes.

Rinse the reconstituted wakame and chop. Set aside.

Chop the mushrooms. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring the dashi to a boil. Add the cabbage, carrot, ginger and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Add the wakame and mushrooms.

Put a spoonful of the miso into your bowl, add some of the broth and dissolve the miso, then add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Add the noodles (they will finish cooking in the hot broth), optional garnishes, and serve.