Just in case you were wondering where I went, I was busy in my typical cold season mama mode, taking care of sick kiddos, cleaning house, and chopping veggies for soup. Can I fix the germs? Nope. Can I magically cure anyone? Nope. Can I give our kids a snuggle and some soup? Yep. So that’s what I do. And the funny thing is that there’s actually a bit of science to explain why some soups just make us feel better: It’s the combination of electrolytes, easy-to-absorb protein, soothing broth, a ton of vitamins and nutrients from fresh vegetables and herbs, and disease-fighting/head-clearing spices including garlic, onion, tumeric, ginger, and peppers, that give vegetable-based, spicy soups an edge above the rest when it comes to boosting your metabolism and killing off the icky stuff, or at least making you feel a bit better while you weather the latest bug.
This is the second installment of our cooking tutorial series and we continue to improve sound and quality. Many, many thanks to my husband Brian for his great artistic eye and beautiful shots of the food.
Watch the tutorial:
Winter is a season when I hit up the oven all week long making roasted veggies, meats, pies, baked rice, breads and crumbles. I make thick soups like squash bisque and roasted veggie soup and turkey chili. By the time late February and early March roll around, I’m craving something lighter that is easy to sip and full of all the bright flavors that Spring promises just around the corner. This Miso Soup with Salmon and Herbs is a great way to bridge the mid-winter desire for heat and the nearly-spring craving for fresh greens and lighter proteins. It’s full of all the stuff that natural healers recommend for fighting off the common cold and helping alleviate respiratory flu symptoms, and it just tastes amazing because it somehow manages to fill you with everything you didn’t know you were craving–salty, spicy, savory, umami, fat, protein, mildly sweet, and vitamins galore.
The secret to this soup is to serve it all up immediately when the salmon is still literally sparking in the pan and the shells have just been peeled off the soft-boiled eggs. Start with just a ladle or two to cover the base of the pan and keep the soup broth piping hot (but not boiling–that kills the probiotics in the miso base) so you can ladle more hot soup into your bowl as you eat. (Think of the way hot soup is typically served in a big communal serving bowl at a Thai restaurant–you ladle out a bit at a time, which keeps the soup hot and allows you to pace yourself without having to reheat along the way.)
Miso Soup with Herbs and Salmon
To start, gather your ingredients. Head’s up and full disclosure: This might be a multi-step process depending on what’s available at your local grocer. I was able to find everything at our local Town and Country Market, but if these aren’t typical ingredients for you to use, you’ll likely need to wander the produce aisle and ask for assistance to find everything. Some of the ingredients I use (fresh tumeric root, burdock root, celeriac, miso, and toasted sesame oil and nori seaweed) might be best located at a local Asian grocery store.
And, while this soup is quite easy to make and assemble, it does take multiple steps, so set aside about an hour to prep and cook, and plan ahead to find all your ingredients. Read through this post first and watch the video before assembling.
To make everything come together easily, plan to make your veggie broth base first. You can certainly do this a day ahead of time if you like. The key to bringing it all together easily is to time your serving with the salmon; you want to serve the salmon hot, so make sure everything else is ready to assemble by the time the salmon is cooked. That means when the salmon is done on one side, you’ll turn it, peel your eggs, ladle soup into individual bowls, add your sizzling fillet of salmon, dress with herbs and toppings, and serve.
Nori Seaweed Flakes
Nori seaweed flakes are easy to make in a blender. Just tear a few nori seaweed sushi sheets into a blender, pulse until small flakes form, and set aside in a capped jar to use atop rice bowls, salads, and soups. I prefer to make the flakes myself, but you can also usually find nori seaweed flakes in a jar in the Asian food aisle.
Sesame salt, or gomasio, is a traditional Japanese condiment that is incredibly easy to make. We use it atop all kinds of entrees, from salads to wraps, soups, and rice bowls. This can also usually be found in the Asian food aisle, but a lot of the preparations include sugar and preservatives; I prefer making my own, but if you’re in a hurry you can grab a jar at the store.
- 2 cups brown or black sesame seeds
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
Toast sesame seeds in a hot pan, stirring frequently, until the sesame seeds begin to hop in the pan and change color a bit. Remove to a bowl, add the sea salt to the pan and toast until warm. Place salt and seeds in a blender and pulse until partially blended and crumbly (some sesame seeds will still be whole, while some will be have formed a flour-like texture). Set 1/4 cup aside in a bowl for today’s miso soup, and place the remainder in a capped jar for use on salads, rice, and other savory sides.
For the miso broth soup base:
- Good glug of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 6 medium-large cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 1 Tablespoon fresh peeled tumeric, grated (I use a peeler to remove the skin, then use the rough, small holed side of the grater to grate it into a fresh pile). Use caution when handling–it stains wood surfaces and linens.
- 10 cups low-sodium or no-sodium broth: bone broth, veggie broth, chicken broth, or combo of your favorite broths
- 2 carrots, chopped coarsely (I halve the carrots and cut into half-discs)
- 3 stalks celery, with tops, chopped coarsely (I slice the stalks lengthwise a couple of times and then coarsely chop)
- 2-3 burdock root stalks, cut into think round discs
- 1/2-1 cup peeled celeriac cut into matchsticks
- White rice miso
Add your shallots, onions, ginger, garlic, and tumeric to the base of a pan doused with a good glug of your favorite olive oil. Tumeric’s main disease-fighting component, curcumin, is best absorbed into the body when cooked with a fat. Let all ingredients cook slowly in the oil, stirring often so that the garlic and tumeric don’t scald or stick to the bottom of the pan. Note that all measurements are approximate and don’t need to be followed to a ‘T,’ just use these as guidelines.
When the onions are translucent, add your chopped veggies. Stir thoroughly for a couple of minutes to coat everything in oil and spices. Add your broth, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
To season with miso: Measure about 1/4 cup miso in a bowl, ladle a couple servings of broth over the miso, dilute by pressing with a fork, add to soup, stir, and taste. Add more miso until it’s salty and delicious. If you accidentally over-salt it, just add more unsalted broth or a bit of water.
Turn burner to its lowest setting and allow miso soup to stay hot, but not simmering, as simmering or boiling the soup will kill the probiotics in the miso.
While soup base is cooking, prepare your toppings:
- Chop about a cup of fresh cilantro, set aside
- Chop 5-10 green onions (a full bunch), set aside
- Slice 5-8 fresh red radishes, set aside
Cook the salmon:
- About 2/3 pound – 1 pound fillet of fresh wild salmon. We used 2/3 lbs for two adults and two kids, but for four adults, I’d use a full pound.
- Toasted sesame oil, to drizzle generously on the fillet
- 1/4 cup gomasio
- High-heat oil such as avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower oil
Drizzle salmon with toasted sesame oil. Coat with 1/4 cup gomasio. Cover with slices of butter. Place salmon in a hot, thick pan such as a caste-iron pan, and cook on medium-high heat for about 6 minutes, then turn and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
For the soft-boiled eggs:
Place 4 eggs in a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and set timer for 6 minutes. When cooking time is complete, immediately remove to a cold water bath, peel the eggs, and set aside.
Ladle hot miso soup into a bowl. I prefer to use a broad soup bowl to present this soup, but any size is just fine. (I’ve served leftovers in big coffee mugs and happily walked about the yard eating this the day after, so don’t overthink it.)
Place about 1/4 lb of cooked salmon atop the soup. Halve a shelled, soft-boiled egg lengthwise and place on either side of the salmon. Sprinkle with a small (scant) pinch of red pepper flakes, a generous pinch of nori seaweed sprinkles, and then add fresh radish slices, green onions, and cilantro. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil and sriracha. (Sriracha is spicy; if you haven’t tried it before, give it a taste to figure out how much you can handle.) Top with a good grind of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
As always, I’d love to know what you think. Message me anytime, or just comment here or on any of the channels forming around my blog (Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube) if you have any questions. I’m seeking feedback and am always looking to improve your experience here. I hope you enjoy this offering today!