Last night’s dinner

Last night, my partner cooked dinner while I worked on a high school chemistry class I’ve been putting off. I’m trying to get into a compressed nursing program. I’m three years into my current career, and I’ve figured out that a desk isn’t for me. At least not all the time.

The soup she made was delicious. The recipe is from a cookbook she bought me for my birthday last month, At home in the whole food kitchen, by Amy Chaplin.

It’s the second we’ve tried, and both used ingredients common in Japanese cooking that are unfamiliar to us. A visit to T&T was called for.

This past Monday evening, we pored over the rows of seaweed offerings in the Japanese foods aisle, and then even more in the Chinese aisles. Many of the labels were in Japanese or Chinese, so it’s lucky for me that an English ingredients label is required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Eventually, we found most of what we needed.

Dried seaweeds can be chock full of health benefits. I’m a label nut, so I always check out what I’m buying. Looking at the wakame it’s got some iron and calcium. But the main event for wakame is the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a key omega-3 fatty acid. Fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, and actually lower blood fat (triglyceride) levels. If you’re curious about supplementing with omegas, talk to a nutritionist or naturopath about what type to take in order to make sure you’re absorbing what you’re paying for.

And even though I’m very wary of soups that call for water rather than broth, I kept mum and B followed the directions for the most part. I’m glad she did, since the combination of ingredients created an incredibly rich broth. The only changes we made were:

  1. A few extra shiitake mushrooms, because they’re delicious.
  2. No carrot, because we couldn’t buy a bulk bag of carrots at the grocery store. We eat so many carrots that we only buy them in bulk.
  3. We used a kabocha squash.
  4. We used about 3 tbsp of ginger juice, because I love ginger.

I’d cook this again (or have it cooked for me) in an instant.

The recipe:

Hearty Winter Miso Soup, with adzuki beans, squash and ginger

Serves: 4-6


1/2 cup adzuki beans, sorted and soaked 12-24 hours in 2 cups of water
8 cups water
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
2in. piece kombu
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups winter squash, cut in 1/2in. dice
1 cup thinly sliced kale leaves
2 tbsps dried wakame, either instant or soaked (5-10mins), drained and chopped
3 tbsps + 2 tips dark miso, either barley or brown rice based
3 tbsps chickpea or mellow white miso
4 tsps of fresh ginger juice*
Thinly sliced scallions, to garnish


  1. Drain and rinse adzuki beans. Place in a medium-large pot.
  2. Add water, shiitakes and kombu; bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 30-35 minutes, or until the adzuki beans are soft and creamy.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove kombu and compost. Remove shiitakes, and once they’re cool enough to handle, remove the stems and compost them. Slice the caps thinly and return these to the pot with the beans.
  5. Warm sesame oil in another large pot over medium heat; add onions and saute until translucent. Stir in carrots and squash and cook another minute. Add the adzuki beans and kombu broth. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked.
  7. Store in kale and wakame. Simmer for one minute.
  8. Add misos to a medium strainer and place over the pot so the bottom sits in the soup. Stir to dissolve miso.
  9. Store in ginger juice and remove from heat.
  10. Serve with scallions scattered over.

* For ginger juice: finely grate fresh, unpeeled ginger root. Place in your palm and squeeze over a cup or small bowl. 2  1/2 inches of ginger root will yield about 4 tsps of juice.