This soup is a clean and light, easy-to-sip offering when you feel like your digestion could use a little break, particularly after an intestinal virus or overeating during the holidays. The addition of miso paste provides plenty of beneficial bacteria to make you feel “right” again.

DAIRY-FREE, GLUTEN-FREE, NUT-FREE, VEGAN

SERVES 4 | PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES | COOK TIME: 25 MINUTES

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

½ cup thinly sliced leek or onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 quarts vegetable broth

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup thinly sliced baby bok choy

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4 ounces rice vermicelli

2 tablespoons light miso paste (available in the refrigerated section of the grocery store along with Asian or fermented products)

Soy sauce (optional)

Toasted sesame oil (optional)

Red pepper flakes (optional)

1.In a 3-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shiitake mushrooms, leek, garlic, and ginger until the mushrooms are dark brown, about 5 minutes.

2.Add the broth, carrots, and baby bok choy, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

3.Lower the heat, add the scallions and rice noodles, and cook for 5 more minutes.

4.Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

5.In a small bowl, dilute the light miso paste with a small amount of warm broth and add to the soup (see tip).

6.Garnish with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and red pepper flakes to taste, if desired.

INGREDIENT TIP: A traditional ingredient in Asian diets, miso is made from naturally fermented soybeans and loaded with an abundance of beneficial bacteria. In Japan, people begin their day with a bowl of miso soup; it stimulates digestion and is often used for its regenerative properties after an illness. Because miso is technically “alive” with good bacteria, it’s important to simply stir miso into warm soup at the end of cooking. Boiling miso will destroy its gut-healing properties. It lasts for many months (if not years) in your refrigerator. If gluten is a consideration for you, make sure to check the packaging for a gluten-free label.

HERB PROFILE

SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS

Fresh or dried fruiting body

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS: Do not use if you have mushroom allergies

TASTE/ACTIVITY: SALTY/NEUTRAL/NUTRITIVE

PROPERTIES: Adaptogen, alterative, anticancer, antiviral, blood purifier, hepatoprotective, immunomodulator, restorative

USES: Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, restores depleted immune system, protects liver

SUGGESTED PREPARATIONS: Sautéed (not raw), tea

ESPECIALLY GOOD FOR: IMMUNE HEALTH

Shiitake is the most extensively studied mushroom. Shiitakes consumed three or four times per week can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They can also be used to reduce inflammation in the lungs, inhibit viruses, and prevent frequent colds, flu, and bronchitis. Shiitake mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to protect the liver from environmental toxins, and research published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that eating shiitake mushrooms can help slow the development of some types of cancer cells.

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