Shiro Miso Soup

Shiro Miso Soup

This simple preparation is Japanese comfort food, good for everything from a cold to fatigue to an overworked digestive system. Miso is a traditional fermented food, made for centuries in Japan, with myriad health benefits.  To avoid damaging the beneficial microorganisms it contains, never cook it.  Shiro (white) miso is made from salted barley, rice, and soybeans inoculated with a fungus (Aspergillus oryzae) cultivated on rice and also used to make saké and soy sauce.  The flavor of shiro miso is milder and sweeter than darker types made with more soybeans.  All miso is salty and needs to be diluted with water or other ingredients until the salt level is right for you. This quick and easy preparation is one of my favorite soups.

Japanese Pancake (Okonomiyaki)

Japanese Pancake (Okonomiyaki)

Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake (okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “grilled” or “cooked”) made with cabbage and other vegetables and a variety of seafood and meats. In Japan it’s popular street food and is also served in restaurants, some of which let diners choose ingredients and cook the mixture on a personal hot plate. Too often, okonomiyaki is smothered with a thick, sweet sauce.  I prefer this version with a miso mayo topping.  I think you’ll find it to be a great comfort food, either as a starter or main course.

Crispy Shiitakes

Makes 1 cup  | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes

I swear people mistake these for bacon all the time, which isn’t really as strange as it sounds. Mushrooms are loaded with savory umami taste, as is bacon, and baking shiitakes leaves them crispy, just like you know what. The smell of the shiitakes baking is absolutely intoxicating. Make sure that they’re lined up single-file on the baking sheet and not piled on top of each other. Otherwise, they’ll steam instead of bake.

1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place the shiitakes in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and paprika, tossing until evenly coated. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on the prepared sheet and roast until crisp and browned, about 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container for 2 days.

Reprinted with permissions from Clean Soups, copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Celeriac Soup with Crispy Shiitakes

Makes 6 servings | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 40 minutes

Sometimes I wonder who was the first brave soul to tear apart a celery root and cook with it. To look at a celery root (or celeriac) and see promise is the definition of an optimist; it’s knobby, hairy covering gives no hint of the delicacy within, but it’s there, all the same. Sautéed with garlic, leek, and fennel, it yields a very pleasant taste that just cries out for a little spice--in this case, shaved nutmeg--to take this soup right over the top.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white part only, rinsed and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
Sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds celery root (celeriac), peeled and diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
6 cups Magic Mineral Broth
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Grade B maple syrup
1 cup Crispy Shiitakes, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the leek, celery, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Sauté until the vegetables begin to get tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, then stir in the celery root, fennel, and another ¼ teaspoon salt. Sauté about 5 minutes more, stirring often. Pour in ½ cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the remaining 5½ cups of broth and another ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

In a blender, puree the soup in batches until very smooth, each time adding the cooking liquid first and then the celery root mixture, and adding additional liquid, as needed. Pour the soup back into the pot, heat gently, and stir in the lemon juice. Taste; you may want to add a pinch more salt. Serve garnished with the mushrooms or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reprinted with permissions from Clean Soups, copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.