Recipe: Miso Maitake Soup

It’s that time of year again — no, I’m not talking about the Christmas shopping frenzy. I’m talking about the sore throats, aches and sniffles that tend to show up just as the holiday season kicks into gear. With flu season in mind, I decided that a nourishing, warming pot of miso soup was a good idea for lunch today.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, miso is a fermented, usually salty paste that is used as a seasoning in traditional Japanese cooking. In fact, the Onozaki family, who trace their ancestry 500 years back to the Samurai, are among the most respected makers of miso today. Miso can be made from a variety of ingredients, including rice, soybeans or barley. I usually use barley miso in my soups. Miso soup often contains a highly nutritious sea vegetable such as kombu or wakame. There are many recipes for miso soup, and I’ve combined some of my favorites to come up with my own recipe.

First, a word about one of my ingredients: maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa). Also known as hen-of-the-woods, maitake is valued as a medicinal, immune-boosting food in many Asian countries. You can buy dried maitake — as well as dried wakame and pickled ginger — from health food stores including the Kushi Store online. Just soak the maitake mushroooms in water before you cook with them.

Dried maitake mushrooms


Miso Maitake Soup


5 cups water

1/3 cup dried maitake mushrooms

1 3-inch strip dried wakame

1 carrot, sliced

1 tablespoon pickled ginger, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons barley miso

3 green onions, thinly sliced


In a medium pot, soak the mushrooms in the 5 cups of water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the strip of wakame in a small bowl of water for about 5 minutes. Remove the wakame from the water and cut it into approximately 1/2-inch pieces.

After the mushrooms finish soaking, add the carrots to the pot. Gently simmer the mushrooms and carrots in the soaking water for 15 minutes. Add the wakame, garlic and ginger and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. In a small bowl, combine the miso with a small amount of broth from the soup. Keeping the soup off the heat, stir the miso mixture back into the soup. The miso will give the soup a cloudy appearance as its beneficial cultures activate. Serve in bowls, sprinkling the green onions over the soup in each bowl.

The ginger and garlic add a warming layer of flavor to this slightly salty miso soup. My sweet husband — my initially skeptical meat-and-potatoes guy — finished his bowl and was surprised how much he liked the soup!

I can’t guarantee that a bowl of miso soup will keep every cold and flu germ away, but a delicious soup loaded with vitamins and minerals may just give you a fighting chance this winter. I’ll bet you come up with your own recipe.

Be well and be blessed!




Meatless Monday: Millet Stew

meatless monday


After a week of sniffling, coughing and losing my voice, I wanted to cook something mild, nutritious and creamy with my favorite grain —  millet. Millet is rich in magnesium, phosphorus, lignans, antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients. I adapted this recipe for millet stew from I’ve only made this recipe once, but I can picture many different types of vegetables in it, such as yellow squash, zucchini or peas. Here’s my version for this Meatless Monday:

Millet Stew


7 cups water

2 cups hulled millet, rinsed

2 potatoes, peeled diced

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

dried Italian herbs to taste

sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste

Boil the water in a large soup pot. Add all the ingredients — excedpt for herbs and sprinkleof salt and pepper — to the water. Reduce to simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the millet is soft and creamy. About 10 minutes before the stew is cooked, stir in herbs and a sprinkle of pepper. You may need to add 1/2 to 1 cup of additional water.

When the stew is finished, spoon it into bowls and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The stew really stays hot for a long time, so be careful! If you’d like to learn more about this grain, click to read a great article from World’s Healthiest Foods.

Be well and be blessed!

Meatless Monday: Tomato Bisque

This week’s Meatless Monday recipe is a classic — tomato bisque! This recipe is adapted from Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Crescent Dragonwagon. This tasty soup is delicious with a sandwich, or on its own. It’s also a rich source of the antioxidant known as lycopene, which is found in chopped, cooked tomatoes. Lycopene has received much attention for its apparent cancer-fighting properties. Enjoy this soup and be well!

Tomato bisque soup is surprisingly easy to make!

Tomato Bisque (serves 2 to 4 lunch entrees)


1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 medium tomato, diced

1 tablespoon honey

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons fat-free evaporated milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a 10-inch skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute a few minutes, until it begins to soften. Add canned and fresh tomatoes with juice, honey, bay leaf, cloves, basil, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup of the evaporated milk to just under a boil. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in the 3 tablespoons of evaporated milk. Whisk this mixture into the hot milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick, smooth, and free of starchy taste — about 1 minute.

Remove bay leaf from the tomato mixture. Gradually add the mixture to the hot thickened milk. Do not add all at once, because it could curdle the milk. Heat the soup thoroughly, but do not boil. If you like, you can thin the soup with a little more milk. Serve hot, immediately.

Meatless Monday: Slow Cooker Bean and Barley Soup

Welcome to the first Meatless Monday post of this new blog! Are you trying to eat healthier, or thinking about transitioning to a meatless diet? A great way to start is to devote one day a week to a plant-based menu. Here’s a hearty soup recipe to get you started:

Slow Cooker Bean and Barley Soup


1 pound dried pinto beans

1/4 cup pearl barley

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1  can (4 ounces) diced green chili peppers, undrained

black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon dried cumin

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons barley miso

The evening before cooking this dish, sort through the dried beans, rinse, and soak them overnight in water. The next morning, parboil the beans for 40 to 50 minutes. Drain, rinse, and place beans in a 5-quart slow cooker.

Add all ingredients except for vegetable bouillon. Cover and at “high” setting for 5 to 6 hours, or until beans are tender and fully cooked. Set heat to “low”.

Ladle a small amount of soup broth in a cup. Dissolve the miso in the broth. Add to the soup and stir to combine.  Do not boil the miso. You may use vegetable bouillon if you do not have miso.

To enlarge this recipe, you can add leftover pasta–even macaroni and cheese will work–to the soup. Enjoy!