In Macrobiotic cooking, a key ingredient we like to use to maintain health and healing is miso. This fermented, aged soybean puree contains living enzymes that aid in digestion and provide a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, vitamins and proteins.
Legend tells us that miso originated at the time of the birth of the Japanese nation. It is the oldest staple in Japan and is considered a very important medicinal tool as well.
Specific Health Benefits of Miso:
- Stamina: miso contains a large amounts of glucose which provides energy
- Metabolism: abundant minerals in miso help aid metabolism
- Digestion: living enzymes in miso enhance food breakdown in the stomach
- Beauty: miso nourishes the skin and the blood, promoting cell and skin tissue building (no wonder Japanese women have such beautiful, radiant skin.)
- Helps clean radiation from the body (from computers, TV, or radiation therapy)
- Helps prevent allergies and tuberculosis
- Relieves the effect of smoking and alcohol consumption
- Alkalizes the blood, “waking up” the nervous system
- Can prevent weakening of the bones when consumed regularly (without consuming much sugar)
- Provides complete amino acids when mixed with barley or rice
- Protein rich (in Japan it is called “vegetable meat” due to high protein content)
Important Nutrients: calcium, phosphorous, iron, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, and other minerals in lesser amounts.
Did you know that Miso means ‘source of taste’? ‘Mi’ means taste or seasoning, ‘so’ means source.
- Mellow: Sweet and salty. Use in gravies, dressings, or summer soups for a lighter taste.
- Chickpea: Similar to the mellow. Use in soups all seasons.
- Barley: Rich flavor. Use during winter or summer in soups and stews. Good for healing diets. Sometimes I like to use it in combination with the mellow or chickpea on very hot days.
- Hatcho: Hearty and savory. Use in soups mainly during the winter (can be a strong taste). Good for healing diets. My husband likes me to mix it with the mellow or chickpea.
Simple Healing Miso Soup
4 cups of water
2” piece of Wakame Seaweed, rinsed and cut into pieces
2 Dried Shitake Mushroom, rinsed, soaked and sliced
2 Tbsp thinly sliced Daikon 1⁄2 moons
2 Tbsp fresh tofu diced
2 Tbsp Organic Barley Miso
2 Tbsp thinly diced green onions to garnish
- Bring water to boil with the daikon, wakame and shitake mushrooms. Simmer for 10/15 minutes. Add the tofu and let simmer for 3 minutes.
- Dilute miso in a suribashi with some hot broth from the soup, then lower the heat under the soup before you add the diluted miso.
- Serve garnished with some sliced scallions.
You do not want the miso to boil. It just needs to turn in and mix with the broth gently for 1 or 2 minutes. Boiling the soup will kill the live enzyme in the fermented miso.
Enjoy this delicious, simple tasting, healing soup and take in the wonderful health benefits of miso.
Margo Massoud Marver has studied and taught Macrobiotics internationally since 1979. Margo maintains a macrobiotic cooking , shiatsu and reflexology practice in Portland, OR.