Ginger Miso Soup

Ginger is one of those foods that I always say that I would want with me on that desert island - I consider it to be essential and magical. In Chinese Herbal Medicine, fresh ginger (sheng jiang) is used to warm and detoxify the digestive system, help fight colds, and relieve nausea. To help with inflammation, I recommend ginger tea, and often combine it with fresh-squeezed lemon, and maybe a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Almost everyday, I make some variation of ginger miso soup. If I don't have much time, or just want something clean and simple, the soup might just consist of water, ginger, scallion, and miso. But most of the time it is heartier than that, with some shitake mushroom, rice or quinoa, carrot slices, egg, and maybe a few peanuts thrown in for good measure. That last addition always reminds me of breakfast congee in Chinatown, New York City.

I'll change the kind of miso that I use, according to the season and my taste. Lately I've been using the dark miso but I was gravitating toward the mellow white miso for quite a while. Miso is another hugely important food that I first learned about in Macrobiotic cooking classes. Like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchee, it is a fermented food, loaded with probiotics. Store it in the refrigerator, and never let it come to a boil ! After my soup has cooked, I turn off the light, serve it into individual bowls, and then add the miso - somewhere between a teaspoon and tablespoon, depending on the serving size and personal taste.