I used to drink coffee in the morning; loved my cup of java to jump start the day. Then not too long ago, I got an intestinal disturbance which kept me from having that, or much of anything else for several days. When the bout was over, I found I couldn’t easily tolerate coffee anymore. So, I switched to tea. Except for being a warm liquid, it just wasn’t the same for jump starting. So I looked elsewhere. Miso soup popped into mind. It’s warm, soothing, and healthful. Why not a cup of that to kick off the day?
Then the details: Miso is soybean paste mixed with a fermented starter, called a koji, and the koji can be of rice, barley, or soybeans. That mixture is then further fermented from a few weeks up to three years or so. Hence, the variety of misos is almost as diverse as that of wines, beers, or olive oils. And, though the liquid base of miso soup is usually dashi, a delicate fish and/or kelp broth, I wanted to simplify that. Experiments were in order.
After trying many possibilities for the broth, I settled on a brew of shiitake mushrooms for earthy flavor and gingerroot for a healthful wake up punch. For the miso, I sampled those that are readily available and relatively inexpensive. In that range, I eliminated white miso because, for my taste, it is too sweet for a morning drink, better used in a sauce or marinade. The more robust red and brown rice misos turned out to be my preference.
Once the choices for the broth and miso were settled on, putting the ingredients for the drink together was as easy as brewing a cup of coffee or steeping a cup of tea. And, you can make enough of the broth for several morning’s worth and refrigerate it to make a cup “to order,” even while you’re still bleary-eyed, ready to dash out the door with your travel cup in hand, or sit down to read the morning paper.
There’s a bonus to having miso for a morning drink: It is food, which coffee and tea aren’t, and thereby it assuages morning hunger beyond the first hour or two of the day.
Miso Morning Drink
For 8 cups broth
6 small dried shiitake mushrooms
1 -inch long by 3/ 4-inch wide piece of ginger root, not peeled, cut into 1/ 4-inch thick coins
1 whole clove
8 cups filtered water
Organic red or brown rice miso, 1 1/2 teaspoons per 1 1/ 2 cups broth
Place the mushrooms, ginger, clove, and water in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and set aside, still covered, to steep for 5 minutes.
Lift out and discard the mushrooms, ginger, and clove with a wire strainer. Use the broth right away. Or, cool and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To make one morning’s worth of miso drink, heat 1 1/ 2 cups broth in a microwave or small saucepan. Pour into a cup, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons miso, and enjoy.