Miso soup

Chef Elliott Prag's Famous Miso Soup

The chef-instructor shares why he teaches students the recipe.

This miso soup is a recipe I always make during baking class. Soup in a baking class? Let me explain.

The class, Converting Practicum, is an all-day laboratory for our Chef’s Training Program students. Working in pairs, students take a conventional baking recipe (using white sugar, refined flour and processed ingredients) and convert it step-by-step to a more whole, vegan alternative. It’s a brilliant exercise in how minimally refined sweeteners, whole grain flours and natural additives work. Each student group end up making six to eight batches of their cookie, cake or muffin recipe in the course of the day. By a rough, conservative estimate, we make 700 portions of dessert. Heaven knows the students try their best to taste judiciously, but all that sugar and flour (even the “healthier” choices) eventually gets to them. Imagine the challenge of remaining intellectually focused with starches and sugars as your mind’s only fuel.

That’s where miso soup comes in. Making a big pot of this Asian elixir is — and has always been — an integral part of the converting class. It’s our chosen antidote to expansive, acid-forming sugar and flour. A bowl of alkalizing miso soup - chock-full of vegetables, live with digestive enzymes and rich in minerals from seaweed — is the perfect balance for a sugar high. When the students eat it, I can actually see them “come down” and re-focus almost immediately. And they consume the soup greedily throughout the day.

Some years ago a student asked for the recipe and I decided to post it on Facebook for other students who've asked for it before. I was more than a little surprised when 62 people quickly “liked” it and 26 people enthusiastically commented on it. There was a lot of waxing sentimental over some simple miso soup among those comments. I didn’t invent miso soup – and I didn’t even re-invent it. Students remember my recipe fondly, and yes, I’ve gladly accepted the unstinting praise it garnered. But I rather think what students really remember is how the soup worked its magic to soothe sugar-induced nausea and confusion.

This reminded me of a simple, profound truth that is the foundation of our work at NGI: whole foods have a power to restore balance and to heal — if we know how to use them. Ask any CTP student how to cure an upset stomach, nausea, bloating, a headache, a hangover, insomnia or a sugar binge, and they can give you an effective food remedy. Food and healing — it’s our thing.

This post was originally published by the Natural Gourmet Institute. Learn more about today's Natural Gourmet Center.

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