When looking for something different to eat for breakfast, a bowl of seaweed soup is unlikely to spring to mind. However, the following recipe is a traditional breakfast meal in Japan. It is also a delicious and powerful way to start your day. The Japanese have been breaking their fast with this simple soup for thousands of years and it forms a staple component in the macrobiotic (great life) diet.
Red onions contain more of the healthy stuff than the white ones.
A four inch piece of Wakame sea vegetable is enough for a litre of soup. A very delicate plant, Wakame is grown in the deep clear waters of the Japanese islands and is soft enough to be eaten raw, especially in sandwiches.
The bulk of the soup comes from the Miso paste, a rich, dark and very salty paste that is teeming with live friendly bacteria.
It takes eighteen months to make a good Miso. Soya beans are mixed with rice, barley, other vegetables and sea-salt: a live culture is introduced to start a fermentation process. Traditionally, the mix is stored in large Ceder kegs with heavy rocks on the top to compress the decomposing beans as they sit for up to two years.
The result is a rich, dark salty paste that makes great stock and contains a wealth of life giving nutrients in a semi-digested form. Protein in the soya beans and grains are broken down by the live culture into essential amino acids – saving your body the job – and is by far the healthiest way of adding soya to your diet.
Chop a small onion or half a large one and soak the Wakame in water to remove the excess salt. A small piece of Kombu (see photo) is traditionally used to flavour the soup but is removed before serving. Kombu is a great flavour enhancer and will tenderise most foods it is added to, especially pulses and peas.
The miso paste is not cooked, this would destroy the healthy bacteria and enzymes, instead it is added at the end. So boil the onion and sea veg in 1/2 litre of water for 20 mins or 4 in a pressure cooker and while they are cooking mix the miso paste in a cup with a little water to thin it down.
Add more water if the soup tastes to strong, it should have a rich salty taste similar to Oxtail soup, if the flavour is too weak, stir in more Miso paste.
Serve with fresh bread and butter and add back pepper.
Miso is often recommended for vegans to eat regularly because it is naturally high in protein, vitamin K, and vitamin B12.
Studies show it can protect against radiation and cancer and keep you looking healthy and young.
Miso is also high in the minerals iron, copper and manganese and Studies have shown that women who consume miso regularly are less likely to develop breast cancer.
Use Miso in place of chicken stock or vegetable stock in recipes.
Add Miso to stews and casseroles, use in place of salt (the salt in Miso is natural sea-salt).
Unpasteurised Miso is the healthiest option, dried packet versions are a poor substitute and don’t taste too much like the real thing.
Many people report feeling a surge in vitality after eating Miso soup – if you can face it after a heavy night it is also a great hangover cure.
Many studies have shown the health benefits of miso on humans and animals. Benefits include reduced risks of breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancer, and protection from radiation. Researchers have found that consuming one bowl of miso soup per day, as do most residents of Japan, can drastically lower the risks of breast cancer.
Miso has a very alkalizing effect on the body and strengthens the immune system to combat infection. Its high antioxidant activity gives it anti-aging properties.