Thursday, January 21, 2016

Miso Mushroom Soup

Life is about balance. Not everyone has time to cook, but we all must be fed. This 5-minute miso soup comes to the rescue with its gentle and restorative properties. I have it for breakfast, especially after working a busy night in the crisis center. It might seem strange to have soup as your morning meal, but give it a go. Miso for breakfast is macrobiotic. It's a Japanese custom to start the day with miso soup. It's wonderful. It's lovely for lunch too. Here's why....

Dark barley miso is deepened with toasted sesame oil and shiitake mushrooms. It's a powerful soup that nourishes and satisfies. It's warm and cozy, especially in the colder months. I live in New England near the coast, and winters here tend to be long and cold. On one day last month, the beach was mostly clear. Inland, however, the trees were covered with frozen snow. It looked like a winter wonderland. The landscape always changes and surprises me here.

Miso soup is just the thing to start your day the macrobiotic way. I pair it with whole wheat toast. Sometimes I have an egg with my toast. Sometimes I have sliced avocado on top. Sometimes I go for something sweet: topping my toast with tahini and naturally-sweetened jam. Either way, I finish my toast with sesame seeds or Gomashio (toasted sesame-salt). The little seeds are a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition. These macro-breakfasts perk me up and make me feel content at the same time.

After breakfast, my beagle and I walk on the beach. She has a routine where she runs like cyclone-Snoopy, zooming around labs, terriers and the rest of the canines. Her ears are whooshed back and there's a smile on her face. She suddenly decides her workout is over. She returns to walking at my human pace. During the winter here, the beaches are populated by a scattering of happy dogs and dedicated walkers. It's a peaceful and beautiful retreat from the world.

When I'm in my macro-mode, I brew green tea with roasted and popped rice (genmaicha). Roasted rice green tea is a macrobiotic beverage. This green tea energizes me without giving me the jitters. The roasted and popped rice in the tea adds a wonderful full-bodied flavor. Genmaicha, wholegrain toast and mushroom miso is a balancing breakfast when I need it most.

Miso Mushroom Soup Recipe 

Serves 2

Some Notes & Tips:

You can riff on this base recipe by adding some corn, thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced leeks, thinly sliced cabbage, thinly sliced brussel sprouts, diced broccoli, sea vegetables and/or grated fresh ginger to this soup, along with the mushrooms. If you can't find shiitake, regular white button mushrooms work just fine. The soup is great with cooked brown rice, soba, somen or ramen noodles too. Personalize your miso. Change it with the seasons. I enjoy it with the addition of corn and brussel sprouts or broccoli.

I use South River Three Year Barley Miso  for its delicious and hearty taste. I also love their Hearty Brown Rice Miso.  I find both of these products at Whole Foods Market.

Miso soup is very quick and easy to prepare. Just remember to take the pot off the heat before you stir in the miso paste. Miso is a living food. If you add it directly to the boiling water you will destroy the beneficial microorganisms that are believed to have great health benefits.

Miso paste should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Darker ones will keep up to a year. Check the sell-by date on the container. Always use a clean tablespoon when measuring your miso. 


  • 2 tablespoons of barley miso or brown rice miso. I use South River Brand (see notes for information). 
  • 2 cups of water
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 scallions, diced
  • 1/3 cup of frozen shelled edamame
  • A few drops of toasted sesame oil or Asian sesame oil


Put the mushrooms and edamame in a small pot with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until the edamame and mushrooms are just tender. Take the pot off the heat. Stir in the miso until it has dissolved. Use the back of your spoon to press the miso paste on the side of the pot to help incorporate and dissolve it into the water. Serve the soup with a few drops of sesame oil and a sprinkle of diced scallion.  

Bon Appetit & Blessings!
xx ~ Jilly  

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