Soba Noodles in Ginger Miso Broth with Garden Kale, Mighty Micro Greens & Tiny, But Super Sesame Seeds

This is one of my quick throw together recipes, but my husband and I think it hits some serious authentic notes—even if it’s not really an authentic recipe. I love the healthy goodness of this soup with its hints of warming ginger, toasty sesame, and the velvety texture from the miso. I have two extra variations of this miso broth: a vegan dried shiitake mushroom and a dried anchovy version. I like lots of textured, barely steamed leafy greens in this soup too—kale is hearty and excellent here, but soft sea vegetables work well too. To add depth and nutrition, sprinkle some micro greens, spring onions, toasted sesame seeds (I like to consume various tiny, but mighty seeds as much as possible), and Japanese shichimi. Finally, I love a good swirl of gluten free 100% buckwheat soba noodles with this.

WHY MAKE MISO BROTH AT HOME? PROBIOTICS FOR GUT HEALTH!

Because unless we’re lucky enough to live with really traditional Japanese food, we can’t be certain how it’s prepared. And, if we want miso for its natural probiotics, we want to ensure it isn’t cooked, so preparing it at home is a simple way to enjoy all the health benefits of this wonderful food.

You'll find this broth is so easy to make that drinking a bowl of miso soup may become a new daily habit! I've always thought that miso is one of the reasons Japanese and Korean women have beautiful, youthful skin—well into their twilight years! (Plus, they shun the sun, but I'm a bit of a beach bum so I have to hope antioxidant rich food will help me.) A traditional Japanese breakfast isn’t sweet with waffles and syrup, it’s savory and full of fermented foods—including miso. Koreans also eat a similar breakfast, one that typically includes their version of “miso" which is called doenjiang jigae (Korean fermented soybean paste stew), along with fish, kimchi (fermented cabbage dish which is a national treasure, although oddly, I’ve never been a fan), veggies, sprouts, and rice. How I love this way of eating for breakfast! It’s one of my most cherished memories of my travels in Korea and Japan.

As a fermented soy food, miso has natural probiotics. We can take probiotics daily, which I highly recommend; but since every culture in the world has a tradition of fermenting foods, we can also borrow from various world cuisines to invite richness and variety into our kitchens—and our guts! Long before refrigeration, we fermented foods to prolong their shelf life, creating foods rich in live bacteria that replenish our gut bacteria—crucial to good health. An imbalance of bacteria in our gut not only causes intestinal discomfort and handicaps our immune system, it can also inhibit nutrient absorption, so all those beautiful nutrient rich foods we eat may not end up well absorbed. I'm stocking up on the fermented foods now that summer is fading and hoping to pump up my immune system before flu season. I just made a huge jar of Moroccan styled fermented lemons (so gorgeous!) that will be ready in about a month. Here are a few easy to find fermented foods: kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir/lassi/yogurt (both dairy and coconut), but also tamari/soy sauce, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, beer, and wine.

Our ancestors understood the importance of fermented foods to our health. And now after some twenty years of intensive research on the role of intestinal bacteria in the immune system, science can confirm and expand upon our ancestral knowledge. The biggest concentration of immune cells are found in the intestine. Experts vary a little on the exact number, but it's said that 60 - 70% of our immune system is in our gut, and more research is being conducted to advance our understanding about the gut’s link to many major auto-immune diseases, as well as nervous and emotional disorders. Published in 1999, Dr. Michael Gershon’s book The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine is a fascinating read by a pioneer in the field!

Soy, like many other legumes, grains, and nuts contain phytic acid, which can also inhibit mineral absorption. Many experts advocate soaking and sprouting phytic acid foods (most nuts, legumes, and grains to varying degrees) to help break down this compound, but soy needs to be fermented to neutralize its high content of phytic acid, which is why organic non-GMO miso and tempeh are the only soy foods I really recommend eating—in limited to moderate amounts depending on the individual’s soy sensitivity. Although I grew up eating and still do consume tofu (organic), it’s seldom.

CONTROVERSIAL SOY

For a basic summary of the pros and cons to eating soy, as well as advice on how to select the best soy foods, please refer to my blog post "SO, WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT SOY?

And finally, here’s the miso broth recipe! To your health and happiness! xx, Juli

Note: the main broth—MINUS THE MISO—can be made in advance and warmed up. Then add a spoon of miso paste, fresh vegetables, soba, etc.

for the Miso Ginger broth, serves 2

  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely-minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 1/2 litres vegetable broth
  • sea or Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons organic shiro miso paste
  • optionally add one or the other:
  1. 3 dried shiitake mushrooms (or fresh, but the dried ones pack more flavor)
  2. 8 small dried anchovies (found in Asian food stores)

for the Miso Soba soup

  • 150 g 100% buckwheat soba noodles, cooked in salted water according to package instructions
  • 4 cups kale leaves, hand torn into bite size pieces, steamed, but retaining bright green color
  • 1 spring onion, very thinly sliced
  • micro greens, sprouts
  • toasted white sesame seeds
  • Japanese chili flakes (shichimi)
  1. In a large pot, heat the sesame oil on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and tender.
  2. Add the tamari, vegetable stock, and mirin, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add either the dried shiitake or the dried anchovy and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. When you’re ready to assemble the soup, ladle a bit of broth into a medium bowl,  stir in 1 tablespoon of the miso, and whisk until dissolved.
  7. In a large individual serving soup bowl, swirl in the soba noodles and add the steamed kale.
  8. Pour the completed miso broth into the soup bowl.
  9. Garnish with micro greens, spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, and Japanese chili flakes.
  10. Serve immediately.