Miso Soup: The Miracle Food

“Miso soup, containing a sea vegetable, can be likened to the ancient sea we have evolved from. As that ancient sea nourished our first beginnings, miso nurtures us and the internal sea of our blood.” – Aveline Kushi

This a potent healing soup made from Miso paste. Miso is the fermented paste from cooked, salted and aged soybeans. It is an ancient food that has many version throughout traditional Asian cuisines and is known as Chang or Jiang in China.

Miso is the Asian version of yogurt in that it provides a variety of pro-biotics, proteins and enzymes along with the benefits of soy but without the dairy. The fermentation starter is rice inoculated with aspergillus oryzae. This starter rice is called Koji.

Traditional, Japanese Miso comes in light, red or dark made from a variety of soy and grain combinations and can be whole bean (chunky) or smooth paste.

The length of time aged will determine whether it is light, medium (red) or dark in color.

Remember to use traditionally processed miso without chemicals that is found in natural food stores or health food section of grocery


Hatcho – Straight soy is very dark minimum 3 year-old Miso with deep “chocolate notes” that was the favorite of the Imperial Family

Mugi – Another 3 year miso somewhat dark and little chunky that has a clean bouillon like taste that is made from barley koji and soy.

Genmai – A medium brown/red variety made with rice koji and soy. This is my favorite in that it is gluten free, smooth with a warm soothing taste.

White – Is finely pureed white rice with quick fermentation and is familiar to most Japanese restaurant goers.

All Miso pastes can be used to make soups, flavor sauces and used to ferment and pickle tofu (tofu cheese) and flavor many vegetable dishes.

Miso, has been associated with healing especially assisting the body in dealing with the harmful effects of radiation.[1]

In addition to current studies there are anecdotal stories post bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki of people eating a strict traditional diet including brown rice, and Miso soup and vegetables, especially tempura squash and surviving radiation sickness.

Basic Recipe for Miso Soup

1 Quart water

1 Wakame dried seaweed 3 inch strip (from natural food stores or International food section of supermarket)

2 rounded teaspoons, unpasterurized natural miso

1 cup of your choice of vegetables, i.e., my favorite combo is carrots, onions, cabbage and dried shiitake mushrooms (many people also like broccoli.)

Rinse wakame briefly under water and add to sauce pan with the water and heat on medium flame. Slice vegetables finely and add to water when simmering and cook 5 minutes or until color of veggies deepen and taste sweet not raw. In a cup dissolve the miso paste with a little of the warm water until creamy, then add to soup and gently simmer several minutes. Do not boil as this destroys the enzymes and good stuff.

Serve with chopped parsley or scallion slice fine.


[1] Radioprotective effects of miso (fermented soy bean paste) against radiation in B6C3F1 mice: increased small intestinal crypt survival, crypt lengths and prolongation of average time to death. Ohara M, et el… http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11833659

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About Karen Jones