Instant Karma in a Bowl – Miso Mushroom Soup

IMG_7924Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you

-John Lennon, Instant Karma

When it comes to living full and healthy lives, the Chinese have longevity down. A big component of this truth is the way they inherently know that what you put in your body, mind and spirit affects your quality of existence on this planet a great deal and if it’s consistently poison, you are going to suffer the consequences. Part of that is attributed to the way they incorporate whole, pure and fermented foods and a wellspring of herbs into their lives on a regular basis. Not waiting until the flu knocks on their doors, they habitually eat medicinally with prevention and maintenance in mind rather than using medicine as just a drastic reaction when the bugs of illness decide to strike.

I have adopted this system for myself over the past few years, inspired by my course of study in planetary herbology and nutrition. Because of this, I have a steady weekday lunch regime of soups, salads, rice porridges and bean dishes that fill out the middle between my gluttonous and adventurous foodie weekends.

One of my go to soups is a luscious and super simple miso mushroom.

Mushrooms are regarded as medicine because they are said to nourish the shen, or spirit. The shiitake in particular is most commonly used in Chinese cuisine and is the second most commonly grown mushroom in the world. It is said to have antitumor, immune-regulating, antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic and anticholestoral properties.

In Asia, miso is considered one of the most perfect foods because it consists of easily assimilated high quality protein. It also aids assimilation of other foods with its digestive enzymes, lactic acid bacteria, salt-resistant yeasts and healthful organisms. Contrary to popular belief, it is not full of salt but actually only 12% salt which is less than you would use having to season a dish with salt yourself – yet it imparts the same rich, umami flavor of salt naturally.

Together in a quick midday soup, these two ingredients go miles beyond providing a healthy lunch – they also calm the soul, rejuvenate the brain for the afternoon lull and impart ultra vitamins to your entire body to boost your physicality’s karma for those moments when you are going to want to indulge.


2 tablespoons of sesame oil
6 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 onion thinly, sliced
2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (or water)
3 tablespoons of dark miso paste
1 garlic clove finely chopped
A dash of soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced parsley, chopped chives or leeks –or all three!

Saute the chopped mushrooms, onion and garlic in an iron skillet until the onions become translucent. Add the vegetable stock (or water) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and dissolve the miso paste into the broth, simmering another ten minutes. Serve warm with a dash of soy and the parsley, chives, or leeks or a combination of all three!