Chef Elliott Prag's Famous Miso Soup
The chef-instructor shares why he taught students the recipe.
This miso soup is a recipe I always made during baking class. Soup in a baking class? Let me explain.
In our Plant-Based Culinary Arts Program, students often take a conventional baking recipe (using white sugar, refined flour and processed ingredients) and convert it step-by-step into a more whole, vegan alternative.
It’s a brilliant exercise in how minimally refined sweeteners, whole grain flours and natural additives work. Each student group ends up making six to eight batches of their cookie, cake or muffin recipe in the course of the day. Heaven knows the students try their best to taste judiciously, but all that sugar and flour (even the “healthier” choices) eventually gets to them. Imagine the challenge of remaining intellectually focused with starches and sugars as your mind’s only fuel.
That’s where miso soup comes in. Making a big pot of this Asian elixir is — and has always been — an integral part of the converting class. It’s our chosen antidote to expansive, acid-forming sugar and flour.
A bowl of alkalizing miso soup — chock-full of vegetables, live with digestive enzymes and rich in minerals from seaweed — is the perfect balance for a sugar high. When the students would eat it, I could actually see them “come down” and re-focus almost immediately. (And they consumed the soup greedily throughout the day.)
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Some years ago a student asked for the recipe and I decided to post it on Facebook for other students who've asked for it before. I was more than a little surprised when 62 people quickly “liked” it and 26 people enthusiastically commented on it. There was a lot of waxing sentimental over some simple miso soup among those comments, and I didn’t invent miso soup — and I didn’t even reinvent it. Students remember my recipe fondly, and yes, I’ve gladly accepted the unstinting praise it garnered. But I rather think what students really remember is how the soup worked its magic to soothe sugar-induced nausea and confusion.
This reminded me of a simple, profound truth that is the foundation of our work: whole foods have a power to restore balance and to heal — if we know how to use them. Ask any student how to cure an upset stomach, nausea, bloating, a headache, a hangover, insomnia or a sugar binge, and they can give you an effective food remedy.
Food and healing — it’s our thing.
This post was originally published by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Learn more about today's Natural Gourmet Center.
Chef Elliott's Miso Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil (not toasted)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, cut into matchstick
- 2 ribs (pieces) celery, cut on the bias diagonally
- 8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 piece of kombu
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup wakame, soaked 15 minutes and drained
- ¼ cup arame, soaked 15 minutes and drained
- ½ pound tofu, diced
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- ginger juice to taste lemon juice, to taste (not traditional)
- 1 cup (or more) miso of choice
- scallions, sliced, for garnish
- Heat oil in a 3-quart pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, shiitakes, garlic, kombu and salt. Sweat for approximately 15 minutes on low heat, covered.
- Add wakame, arame and tofu. Continue to sweat for another 10 minutes.
- Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Let broth stand for 5-10 minutes. Add ginger and lemon juice.
- Temper miso into 2 cups of the broth. Add tempered miso back into the soup. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.