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Miso soup provides a great source of protein, and it is versatile enough to be enjoyed as a side dish, as a precursor to a meal, after a meal, or simply as a main course, depending on the ingredients.
However, because it is a soup and soups are often high in sodium, it may cause you to ask, can I eat miso soup everyday? And the answer to this question is yes; however, it may not be recommended for certain individuals.
About Miso Soup
Miso soup, which originated in Asia, is a savory hot soup that is made using a mixture of miso paste, which is a thick, traditional Japanese condiment made from soybeans that have been fermented with sea salt and cultured rice, and hot dashi soup stock, which is a basic stock made from kelp, dried bonito flakes, and anchovy, that usually includes some sort of toppings, such as tofu, wakame seaweed, and spring onions.
However, it differs in color, taste, and texture, depending on the base ingredients used in the dashi, the type and variety of toppings used, and the type of miso paste used.
Since Miso soup is comprised of at least 80% miso, the overall flavor, aroma, and color of the soup will ultimately be determined by the type of miso paste used.
There are three main types of miso, red miso, barley miso, and white miso.
Red miso like this has a pronounced salty flavor that makes it a great base for wholesome soups. It is made from soybeans and a combination of grains, including barley, that has undergone a long process of fermentation, which gives it its intense, savory taste.
Barley miso is also often used as an alternative in miso soup. It is made using soybeans and lots of barley, which are then fermented, giving it a thick wholesome taste.
Meanwhile, white miso (see Amazon) has the most delicate flavor of all miso pastes. It is made from a combination of soybeans and rice, which are then fermented, giving it a light, slightly sweet, smooth flavor that makes it also great for soups.
There is also an awase miso, which is a combination of both red and white miso, which provides a more flexible flavor, and miso with dashi, which is made from either red, white, or awase miso that has dashi stock added to it. To make soup from this type of paste, you simply mix a spoon of the miso with hot water and your preferred toppings, and then it is ready to eat.
Though miso is traditionally made from soybeans, it is also sometimes made using peas or other beans.
Why Miso Soup is a Staple in Japanese Culture
Miso soup has been for centuries in Japanese culture for its many nutritional benefits. For instance, since the ingredients in miso are fermented, it has probiotic properties, which help strengthen the immune system, helping to protect against various infections and diseases, and also helps lower bad cholesterol levels.
The probiotics in miso also help improve your digestion. Your gut has both good and bad bacteria. However, it is important to maintain healthy gut flora to protect your body against bad bacteria and toxins, which can lead to digestive problems, such as IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease). The good bacteria in miso helps support healthy gut flora, which in turn helps improve the breakdown and absorption of foods in the body, as well as helps reduce gas, constipation, bloating, and many other issues often associated with an unhealthy gut.
Miso soup is also a diuretic, so it helps flush excess salt and water out of the body, which helps reduce swollen tissues and also improves both heart and respiratory functions. It is also chocked full of B12 vitamins, antioxidants, and contains all 20 essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein.
Furthermore, miso itself contains soy protein, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer, as well as certain age-related diseases, such as osteoporosis, and even helps prevent premature aging. Some misos are also high in dietary and vitamin K, which helps build bone and also encourages healthy blood clotting.
However, miso does have a high salt content; therefore, it may not be safe for everyday consumption for individuals with high blood pressure or who are watching their sodium intake. In fact, traditionally, salt is added to all the ingredients in miso to prevent mold growth during the fermentation process, which is responsible for its salty, savory flavor. However, the salt content varies by miso brand and type.
Consuming miso daily may also not be recommended for individuals taking blood thinners because the vitamin K1 in miso can cause your blood to thin even more, which can be fatal. Therefore, be sure to consult with your physician first.
The soybeans in miso also contain compounds that may affect thyroid function; therefore, it may also not be recommended for daily consumption by those with thyroid issues.
Otherwise, miso soup is considered safe for most people. However, you may still consider steering clear of eating restaurant prepared miso soup every day and instead only enjoy it in moderation. Meanwhile, you can make miso soup yourself using low sodium miso, which will help you control the sodium level. White miso contains less sodium than any other type of miso, so consider this a good place to start.
Shopping for Miso/Making Miso Soup at Home
Miso can be found in various conventional grocery stores, or you can visit a specialty Asian market to get miso. When shopping for miso, note that the color of the miso will usually determine its taste. For instance, darker misos generally have a saltier, more pronounced flavor, while lighter misos tend to have a milder, sweeter taste, which makes them also great for use in some desserts.
Because miso is a paste, it can also be incorporated into other foods to add savory flavors, such as casseroles, broth, and marinades. It can also be used in dipping sauces spreads, and salad dressing for a tasty nutrient boost. However, be careful when adding it to extremely hot dishes because the high temperatures may kill the probiotics.
Otherwise, to make miso soup:
- Place your vegetable selection into a pot and then saute them until they are soft.
- Add 1/4 cup of low sodium miso paste along with 4 cups of water to the vegetables. Allow the vegetables and broth to simmer, without the lid, for about 15 minutes.
- Drain 1 16-ounce package of tofu and then cut it into 3 to 4-inch chunks. Add the tofu chunks to the mixture and allow them to cook until thoroughly heated.
- Add the miso soup to a bowl and top with thinly sliced green onions.
Or to make instant miso soup using a flavor packet or packets, simply pour the contents of the packets into a bowl and then add hot water. Mix the ingredients until well combined and then top with your favorite toppings.
Miso soup is traditionally served in lacquered or wooden bowls and then sipped directly from the bowl. Once all the broth is consumed, chopsticks are then used to eat any remaining toppings.
When Should You Eat Miso Soup?
In Japanese culture, miso soup is enjoyed for dinner, lunch, and breakfast. It is also often consumed after meals to help with digestion.
Miso soup can also be enjoyed as part of a larger meal to help enhance the flavor of the other dishes, as well as to provide a contrast in flavor.
How Long Does Miso Soup PasteLast?
Once miso soup paste is open, it should be placed into a closed container and then stored in the refrigerator to help preserve its freshness for up to 6 months. It can also be stored in the freezer; however, the temperature must be above 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Otherwise, provided miso paste remains unopened, it can be stored at room temperature, where it can also last for a long time.
Related Article: How To Properly Store Miso Soup?
Are There Any Other Benefits of Miso Soup?
Miso soup is also beneficial when you are sick because it helps replenish sodium and other vital nutrients that are lost during sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. In fact, it has been used in Japanese culture throughout the ages to treat the common cold, similar to how chicken noodle soup is used in Western culture to help alleviate a cold.
It is also be used to replenish electrolytes and vital nutrients lost during a hangover.
Related Article: Is Miso Soup Vegan? Revealing The Truth