WARNING right up front: Miso is a salty, cultured bean paste from which soy sauce evolved. So if you have high blood pressure issues or are watching your sodium content for any other reasons, this soup may not be for you. But you should read on, because although salt has gained a terrible reputation over the years in regards to high blood pressure, it may be a case of unfounded blame.
The issue of sodium and its link to high blood pressure is being revisited. According to an article in misorecipes.net, it's not the amount of sodium that is important, but rather the balance of it with such minerals as potassium, magnesium, calcium. ". . . research has shown that adding potassium to the diet, which helps relax blood vessels and remove sodium from the blood, can be as effective in lowering blood pressure as reducing sodium intake. Miso soup made with foods that are high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, such as wakame, fish stock (bonito), greens, and carrots, has been shown to actually lower high blood pressure, as well as prevent it from occurring in people normal rates."
|photo via wikipedia.org|
It's also ironic, actually that those of us who have high blood pressure are told to avoid foods high in sodium and to load up on potassium, when in fact diuretics, which are often prescribed to help lower high blood pressure, cause the body to lose potassium.
Miso also offers many important anti-aging benefits, btw. From Natural News.com: "Miso and other fermented foods and drinks help build up the inner ecosystem and assure the digestive tract is amply supplied with beneficial bacteria. These bacteria help digest, synthesize, and assimilate nutrients so necessary for good health and anti-aging. They also strengthen the immune system, keeping it at the ready to fight infection and cancer."
Miso shouldn't be that difficult to find. If you can't locate it in the Asian section of your local market, you can undoubtedly find it at a health food store or in Asian food markets.
Stir together in a soup pot until limp, but not brown:
1/4 cup oil
a small head of cabbage, shredded
3-4 small onions, diced (scallions will work nicely also; if you use them, slice lengthwise)
4-6 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 qts. hot water
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/4 tsp. black pepper (or add more to taste)
Simmer for 30 minutes.
Cut into 3/4 cubes and add to the soup:
1 lb tofu (plain is best for this soup)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup miso
Stir into the soup. Heat, but be careful not to boil. Serve when tofu is heated through. A twist on this recipe is to add tofu pasta rather than the cubes.
Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler