How to make healthy choices every day

Butternut Miso Soup with Arame and Wasabi

 

You know that game where you give someone a word and they have to make up a story with that word in it? I’m like that, except with food. Give me an ingredient, and magically, as if out of nowhere, an entire recipe (or several!) will appear in my head. I could even give you the amount of salt it needs, how the vegetables should be sliced, the oven temp, and what it should be garnished with. It’s a tad psycho, but my best party trick hands down.

When my friend Christiann Koepke emailed me about coming to visit her in Portland, driving to the Pacific coast, and photographing some recipes together, I was all in. And then when she suggested we put seaweed into something (because ocean) it was like someone had opened the flood gates in my brain and alllll the ideas came rushing to me. Neat! And very convenient.

But what do we really want to eat at the beach when it’s chilly and maybe windy, maybe raining, maybe freezing-raining (it is the Pacific Northwest, after all)? The answer is soup. And I knew it was going to be a creamy, dreamy, sea veggie-kissed broth with all the tasty toppings.

 

 

When seaweed is a featured ingredient in a recipe, I tend to channel Asian flavours like miso, ginger, wasabi, toasted sesame, to compliment to the unmistakably briny, salty, ocean-y flavour of seaweed. Eaten as a staple food throughout China and Japan for thousands of years, sea vegetables are rich in essential minerals, trace minerals, chlorophyll, iodine, fiber, and lots of protein. Some sea vegetables even contain vitamin B12 – a rare element for a plant!

Sea vegetables are less complex than their land-dwelling relatives. Without intricate root systems or tissues, seaweeds get their nutrients from the waters they grow in. To survive, they form root-like parts to attach themselves to rocks or other stable elements. There are three categories of sea vegetables; brown, red, and green. Brown algae thrive in cool water at depths of around 50 feet. The most commonly known brown seaweed is kelp, which can grow up to 1,500 feet (500 meters) long! Red algae, like dulse, contain elements that can gel foods. Green sea vegetables bridge the gap between land and sea plants, as they can store food as starch, just like vegetation found out of the water. The most popular kind of green algae is nori, which is what your sushi comes wrapped in.   

 


Seaweeds range in flavours from mild to wild. Some are sweet and nutty, while others are pungent, funky, and an acquired taste. If you’re a seaweed newb (which most Westerners are), I suggest starting out with a less challenging one, like arame.
Arame is in the “brown” category of sea vegetables, but when you buy it, it will appear closer to jet black. It has a stringy texture, and almost looks like wiry hair, but will soften into tender, noodle-y strands after being soaked. Before it is packaged, arame must be cooked for seven hours, and then dried in the sun. To use, simply re-hydrate by soaking it in room temperature water for 10-15 minutes until it is soft and has doubled in volume. Arame is very high in calcium, rich in iron, potassium, vitamin A and the B vitamins. And like other brown seaweeds, arame contains sodium alginate, a compound that helps to convert heavy metals in the body into harmless salt, which is easily excreted.

Besides soup, I like to put arame in stews, stir fries, and salads (here’s a great recipe from the archives…check out that incredible food photography!). The flavor of arame is saline and a bit funky, but mostly sweet. The texture is like an al dente pasta, and I think it adds amazing “meaty-ness” to a dish, with its satisfying chew.

 

 

This soup is well balanced, and hits all the notes: sweet and creamy from the butternut, savoury from miso, chewy from the arame, warming from the ginger, spicy from the wasabi, and nutty and crunchy from the toasted sesame. You could theoretically use any kind of winter squash here, like a Hokkaido pumpkin, acorn or delicate squash. Scale back on the ginger and perhaps leave out the wasabi if you’re making this for kiddos. And if you don’t have arame, or you’re simply not into sea vegetables, leave it out, or replace with some coconut bacon. It should be noted that once you’ve added the miso to the soup base, it’s important that you don’t let it boil if you reheat it. Miso is contains delicate probiotics and enzymes that will be destroyed by high heat. The soup freezes well, but leave the wasabi out until you serve it since the flavour will fade if once it’s frozen.

 

 

 

 


 

Christiann and I had such an incredible time at the ocean, pulling this whole miracle off together. The weather – although abysmal every other day that week – was beyond beautiful from the moment we set foot on the sand, to the second we decided it was time to call it a night (and then it started pouring, ha!). We caught an epic sunset by the fire, exhausted and so grateful for the stars aligning in every way possible, to make this day possible. And it was such an honour to work alongside a photographer that has inspired me for years – if you haven’t checked out her genius yet, here is a link to her website and Instagram.

Thank you, Christiann for making this dream a reality! I had such a blast! We have another post coming up in the New Year I cannot wait to share it with you, dear friends.

Big love to all and I hope autumn is treating you well. Happy American Thanksgiving to all my loves stateside!
xo, Sarah B

photo credits: images 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 Christiann Koepke

*   *   *   *   *   *

Good news friends! Due to the overwhelming feedback, we’ve extended the period of sign-ups for the Life-Changing Loaf Subscription Box that can be shipped before the holidays. If you’re looking for a great gift for a family member or friend (or need to hand out suggestions for yourself!), this is the perfect thing – it’s the gift that keeps on giving 😉 To give the box as a gift, simply click “ship to a different address” when you check out. Thank you for all the support so far! Your loaf is on the way!

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread Subscription Box

 

 



14 thoughts on “Butternut Miso Soup with Arame and Wasabi”

  • wow It’s like a hearty meal on the beach. Its must be so chill-out cooking next to the ocean, isn’t it? For my experience, I just simply grilled meat or boiled the water that didn’t require any pots or bowls. I really love your day!!
    – Natalie

  • Hi Sarah que bien se ve esa sopa !!! acá en Argentina estamos en Primavera pero la voy a guardar para cuando haga frio.Muy bueno el informe de las algas. Perdón pero no se escribir en ingles .Uso el traductor para leerte

    • Hey Gabriella!

      Yes – it is a magical thing to cook and dine outside! Especially by the ocean…wow. Thrilled to hear I’m in good company as a sea veggie lover, haha. Enjoy the recipe!

      xo, Sarah B

  • This looks so warming and nourishing! All my favourite ingredients combined 🙂 By the way, would love to know where you got those seedy thin crackers, or did you make them as well? If so please do share a recipe. They look so crisp .

  • Looks great – this is so reminiscent of your pumpkin/soba noodle soup with seaweed!
    I am a HUGE seaweed lover and sad my selection here in this super land-locked country is so limited. Keepin’ my eyes peeled… 🙂

    • Hey Cynthia!

      Goooooood memory! Haha…I was worried when I posted this that it was too similar to the other one, but I changed things up a little – the wasabi is the most amazing addition! Glad you’re a seaweed lover, but I guess you’ll have to order online if you can’t get anything where you are. Good luck!

      xo, Sarah B

    • This sounds wonderful! Mange tak. I live in the “real “northwest – as in Terrace, near Prince Rupert, BC. My FN friends regularly gift me fresh (and toasted) seaweed. I am now addicted to putting it in all kinds of foods, and especially soup. I think this recipe would be greatly enhanced using bone broth instead of water… not sure if you can get vegan or vegetarian bone broth though.

      • Hej Marianne!

        Tak for din besked! 🙂 You definitely live in the real northwest! Lucky you can get fresh seaweed…yum!
        You can get vegetarian bone broth, but it’s made with medicinal mushrooms, herbs and spices instead. I’m actually going to start trying to make my own soon…stay tuned!

        xo, Sarah B

    • Yes lovies! It was the BEST. Love your images too 🙂 So grateful we got to do this! Thank you for everything <3 Cannot wait for the next one!
      oxox, Sar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *