September 28, 2010

Shitake Miso Soup

After a brutally hot summer, I am welcoming the fall with open arms. Fresh, crisp air is finally here! And with it, delicious recipes to keep me warm, cozy and full.

Yesterday's 16 mile training run left me completely famished and a bit cold from the chilly weather. When I got home, I jumped in an ice bath and although it helped my sore muscles, it did not help the chill. So instead of making my usual post-run green smoothie, I decided to start my meal with a huge bowl of steaming hot miso soup.

Miso soup is perfect for post-run refueling. First of all, just one ounce contains 52% of the recommended daily value for sodium. Sodium loss can be significant during exercise sustained for several hours and can lead to headaches, nausea, muscle cramping and other complications. Since, I had salt deposits all over my face from sweat that had evaporated over 3 hours of running yesterday, I knew I needed to replenish. Second, miso soup is extremely versatile. Just create a base of water and miso, and then add whatever your stomach desires. Tofu, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, soba or rice noodles... the possibilities are endless. And when you make it yourself instead of getting takeout from the local sushi joint, you can fill it with goodies and the soup becomes a really hearty meal.

To make ahead, prep your tofu and veggies and store in an air tight container. Store your miso soup base of miso paste and water separately. When you're ready to eat, throw it all in a bowl and heat in the microwave. So easy and so delicious.

Update on 10/4/2010: Just to clarify.... If I am making this soup and eating it right away, I cook on the stove and prepare as detailed in the recipe below. However, if I am making it to eat later, like after a run, I cut up all the components, cook the mushrooms, and prep the miso soup base (miso + water) on the stove. I store the mushrooms + miso soup base in 1 container, cut up tofu in another, and rest of the throw in veggies in a third. Then I throw them all together in a bowl and microwave. Hope that clarifies & helps!

A few notes about miso soup:
  1. Aside from sodium, miso is chock full of great nutrients. It's a vegan source of B12, and also contains zinc, manganese, vitamin K and protein.
  2. You'll notice that the recipe instructs to lower the boiling water to a simmer before adding the miso paste. Miso shouldn't be boiled in an effort to preserve it's nutrients.
  3. Several types of miso paste are available on the shelves and each has a slightly different flavor. I used mild yellow miso for my soup this week and loved it. Feel free to experiment with different varieties.
miso soup
Shitake Miso Soup
serves 4

1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
4 large Shitake Mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
dash of Salt
4 cups Water
3-4 tbsp Miso Paste
2 ounces Firm Tofu, cut into small cubes
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
other desired add-ins like fresh Spinach, Soba or Rice Noodles, etc...

In a medium saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the shitake mushroom slices and a dash of salt. Cover, and allow to cook until the mushrooms are softened and have released their juices, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside, but leave the mushroom juices in the pan. Add the water and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Pour a bit of the water into a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of the miso paste. Whisk well to combine and then add back to the water. Taste and determine if more miso paste is needed. If so, repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of miso.
Add the cubed tofu to the soup and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for a minute or two.
Divide the add-ins among four bowls and pour the soup into the bowls. Top with shitake mushrooms and chopped green onions.


  1. Looks fantastic! I didn't think about making it such a hearty soup:) TY for the fun idea:)

  2. Yum! That looks like great post-run fuel!

  3. you know, I've never miso-ed? I will now. Confused though, you said microwave should we micro this or cook as instructed?

  4. Lauren, great question & sorry for the confusion! When I make it to eat on the spot, I cook it. But if I'm making to keep in my fridge and to eat after a run, I keep the components separate and then throw them together and microwave it to heat up. I'll definitely update the post to clarify!