Spicy Ginger and Miso Soup with Sea Kelp

20 Mar

I was faced with a culinary conundrum – the weather had been crazy, bouncing from the 40s to the 30s to the 70s (what the hell, Mother Nature?!  It’s March in Cleveland, not that I’m complaining … ).  It left me with a pretty serious cold while the weather felt like mid-June.  Ugh.  I needed a dish that was comforting and nourishing for my stupid sniffles but not heavy enough to be off-putting in the warm weather.  So, taking stock of my pantry, I conceptualized this dish.

Ginger and sea kelp in particular are touted for their health benefits.  And, luckily for me, they both have flavors that I can’t get enough of.  Ginger is bright-tasting with a kick of spice, while kelp has a delicious umami flavor that conjures up tones of the ocean.  Miso is also quite healthy in spite of its high sodium content, and I simply can’t get enough of the salty-savory flavor of soy sauce and the heat of a chili pepper. Combining all of these delicious, nutritious ingredients together and adding a hint of lemon and scallion seemed like a no brainer (and it probably was, because my sniffy nose and low fever were making deep thinking exceptionally difficult for me).

Each of the flavors in this soup is relatively mild, though the spice asserts itself nicely.  Zak said it reminded him of a miso soup (which makes sense, as it’s a soup with miso in it).  The miso is lighter than in a traditional miso soup, and the ginger takes the place of the dashi.  The kelp adds a nice savory oceanic flavor.  This soup was just what the doctor ordered, because the flavors were really light but it was still warm and comforting.  Sadly, it did not cure my head cold, which is still going strong several days later.  Boo.  For something with a bit more heft and substance, add some cubes of firm tofu or noodles as desired.

Spicy Ginger Broth Soup with Sea Kelp

1 tsp. canola oil

1 6″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

3-4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and dark green parts separated

1/2 lemon

5-6 3″ x 3″ pieces seasoned dried sea kelp

1 tsp. soy sauce

3 tbs. white miso

1 tsp. dried Korean chili flakes

Soak sea kelp in 1 cup of warm water for at least an hour.

Add canola oil to a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, and whites of scallions.  Sauté until garlic and ginger are lightly golden brown.  Add 8 cups of water and lemon.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium to maintain a simmer.  Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, drain sea kelp, reserving soaking liquid.

Strain garlic, ginger, and scallions and return broth to medium stock pot.  Heat over medium heat to a simmer.  Add sea kelp and soy sauce.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk miso with 1/2 cup of reserved soaking liquid from sea kelp.  Reduce heat on broth to low and whisk in miso.  Add red chile flakes.  Taste for seasonings and add soy sauce, miso, additional kelp soaking liquid, or chile flakes as necessary.

Serve immediately, garnished with dark green scallion pieces.

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