Are you a vegetarian with the sniffles? This Red Lentil Miso Soup will take the place of grandma’s chicken noodle.
Miso is a fermented soy product used in Japanese cuisine that has been aged from several months to 3 years, creating an intensely flavored paste that ranges in color from white to deep reddy-brown. The lighter the miso, the milder and less salty its flavor.
There are subtleties of flavor depending on what was used to start the fermentation process (usually rice, barley or soybeans), and the specific cycles of fermentation and aging that the miso has gone through.
Miso is believed to have many healthful benefits, despite its high sodium content. It certainly packs a flavor punch, and is a ingredient worth adding to your cooking arsenal if you are trying to incorporate more meatless meals into your life. (If you are on a sodium-restricted diet for health reasons, check the nutritional label on the miso to make sure it can fit within your dietary requirements.)
Groceries stores in larger urban centers may carry miso. In less populous areas (like mine), you will probably have to look for it in specialty grocery stores.
For this soup, add the miso at the end when the lentils are soft. Stir the paste in gently then bring the heat back up to the boiling point, but do not let the soup boil. Boiling the miso will change the flavor.
This soup is quick and easy to make. It makes a good meatless meal, or a healing gift for a friend feeling under the weather.
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml grated ginger or 1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried ginger
- 1 cup / 250 ml sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml red lentils
- 4 cups / 1 liter vegetable stock
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml ground pepper
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml miso
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When pan is hot, add vegetable oil and swirl to coat pan.
Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until they have started to soften. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Do not let the onions or garlic brown. If the vegetables start to brown, turn down the heat.
Add mushrooms and cook until they have begun to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add lentils and toss to coat with the vegetable mixture.
Pour vegetable stock into pan and sprinkle with the pepper. Increase heat to med-high and bring soup to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 - 25 minutes. The lentils should be very soft and have lost their shape.
Add the miso and stir into the soup until it is blended in. Bring soup up to simmering point again and remove from heat.