As I said in a previous post, January has more or less been soup month for us. Even if the air isn’t frigid, my innate desire to spoon warm broth into my mouth still remains. Unconsciously, that led us to make more soup recipes this month alone than the entire lifetime of our blog. The previous soups – Pho Chay (Vegan Pho) and Broccoli Cheddar Soup – have been renditions of staple meals that’ve floated around in the culinary world for at least a couple hundred years. This soup, on the other hand, is simply a mesh of different culinary elements that I thought would make a banging’ hearty soup.
No cool origin story here though – it all started when I first tasted mustard greens a couple weeks ago and thought to myself “these would make a great soup.” From there, the pieces just kind of fell together – smokiness would compliment the mustard-y bite of the greens, beans would add heartiness, and pressure-cooking it would make it easy, relatively fast, and lectin-free.
The one component that came about later in the “think tank period” of development was red miso, which is an ingredient I had never used prior to this soup. However, upon opening that container and taking a lick, I knew I had uncovered a vital, ancient gem of a resource.
What was this flavor my tastebuds are raving over?
It’s lightly sweet, very salty, and deep in flavor, but beyond all that – it tasted like miso. It’s so inherently itself that it could never be confused with another ingredient. Needless to say, I’m hooked, because this paste is as nutritious and versatile as they come.
If you’re unfamiliar with miso paste, then let me formally introduce you. Miso is a thick paste traditionally formed by fermenting soybeans, white rice, and occasionally other grains, like barley, for 6-18 months. Generally, white rice is mixed with the fungus Aspergillus oryzae and then allowed to ferment for a day or two, which then forms what’s known as “koji.” Once the koji is formed, it’s mixed with salted, boiled soybeans, then compressed into tight patties. These patties are then densely packed into a large vessel with a tight lid and allowed to ferment for 6-18 months, as previously mentioned.
During the two day fermentation of koji, enzymes grow abundant on the rice, which are then responsible for consuming, digesting, and therefore altering the proteins in the soybeans and the starches in the rice. Without koji, miso doesn’t exist, because without its unique enzymes, the soybeans and rice would rot instead of transforming into a unique & flavorful paste.
Unfortunately, there’s a noticeable phobia around soybeans in the sphere of paleo, lectin-limited, and ketogenic diets. While it’s true that there are a few biological compounds in soybeans that should be consumed in low amounts, if at all, there are some methods of neutralizing those dangerous lectins and phytochemicals.
For one, you can pressure cook soybeans, which rids them of all their nasty components. Second off, avoiding conventional soy and going the organic route steers clear of many hyped-up problems. However, there’s a method that’s been practiced by Asian cultures for thousands of years that transforms soybeans’ harmful components into a probiotic, antioxidant-rich superfood. That method is fermentation, which is responsible for transforming soybeans into miso, tempeh, and tamari (grain-free soy sauce).
A personal philosophy of mine is that I never commit absolute loyalty to any person, place, corporation, theory, religion, or governing body of any sort. What that means to me is that I seek truth in every philosophy without stating with 100% certainty that it is a truth, because the definition of that word to each of us changes as time goes on. (I’ll get to soybeans, just stick with me for a sec.) The moment I tie myself to a tree of a particular train of thought, I see that other trees begin to emerge, which are just as real as the one I’m attached to. Yet, the rope prevents me from exploring the sides of any other tree.
This holds true with dietary principles as well, because if I were still loyal to my food principles of 8 years ago, you could catch me with a box of Cheez-Its, ridin’ to the nearest McDonald’s to grab a cup of cancerous, sugar-loaded cow’s milk alongside a patty of factory farmed beef stuck between two genetically-modified buns of wheat. Even if you could glance back to 1 year ago, you would definitely see me chompin’ down on processed vegan chicken, a bowl of oat-packed granola, and brown rice – all of which I’ve currently learned to avoid.
You get my point – evolution of thought is essential in living in a healthy life.
Recently, I’ve come to learn many truths about grain-free, lectin-free, and anti-inflammatory eating, namely through the book which this blog is based off of – The Plant Paradox. However, if I start to see other trees emerge from the ground, I’m going to wander over to inspect them to see if they’re an illusion or an actual tree. And if it is a solid tree, I’m not going to abandon my previous tree, rather, I’m going to embrace the qualities of both equally.
It’s easy to entirely dismiss soybeans as a dangerous food, but upon closer inspection, I’ve found that there are ways to make this bean a healthy food with absolutely no downsides.
No justice is served by attacking something that’s innocent, like soybeans, just because we’re afraid of them, which is obvious in the realm of social-justice, but when it comes to diets, people like to withdraw their swords and fight to the death without realizing that they’re fighting for the same cause.
For this reason, I occasionally wander off from the tree of generally accepted “lectin-free” foods into the territory of eggplant, rice, soy, and sourdough breads, because I’ve done research to discover that they aren’t inherently bad; rather, only a few components are to blame for their infamy.
Alright, thanks for sticking with me this long – click here to receive your $1000 prize!
I’m kidding, there’s no prize and I don’t have a thousand dollars, but you did lose a couple minutes of your life that you’ll never get back!
… Ehem. We hope you enjoy this soup! Only one vessel is used, it’s a hands-off cooking journey (meaning you can go walk your dog or write a book while it’s cooking), and it makes enough for leftovers, so it’s perfect for meal prep. For those of us who just recently acquired an Instant Pot, this is a good excuse to plug it in and put it to use.
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Devour,
Ryan & Kim
Smoky Miso Soup with Mustard Greens & Navy Beans
Hearty, miso-infused mushroom broth supports tender navy beans and spicy mustard greens. Lazy, pressure-cooker dinner that's perfect for meal prep.
- 4 c mushroom broth
- 2 c water
- 1/2 lb dry navy beans
- 1 lb mustard greens
- 1/2 yellow onion, large dice
- 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp red miso paste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- pinch of salt
- In a medium bowl, cover navy beans by 2 inches of lukewarm water. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to soak for 8 hours, changing out the water halfway through if possible. Drain & rinse beans then set aside.
- Thoroughly clean mustard greens & remove the majority of their wooden stem. From there, cut the leaves in half and chop across horizontally to create large bands. Set aside.
- Set an electric pressure-cooker (I use a 6 qt Instant Pot) to its sauté setting. Once hot, toss in olive oil, onions, and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook until edges are browned; about 5 minutes.
- Note: If using manual pressure cooker, sauté onions over medium-high heat. If using electric pressure cooker that doesn’t have a sauté setting, cook them in a small pan over medium-high heat until browned then transfer them to your electric pressure-cooker.
- Add beans, mustard greens, and all other ingredients to the pressure-cooker. Stir until thoroughly combined; about 1 minute.
- Clamp on your cooker’s lid, set the pressure to high, and cook for 40 minutes – being sure that the “vent valve” is sealed. After 40 minutes, allow the pressure to release naturally, which could take anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
- Once the pressure’s been released, it’s ready to serve! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days. Reheat in a medium pot over medium-low heat until hot.
- P.S. I enjoy topping this soup with nutritional yeast and a touch of Sriracha-like hot sauce!
*If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use two 15 oz cans of Eden’s navy beans in place of the dried beans. Because Eden pressure-cooks their beans, the soup will still be lectin-free. Simply follow the directions as called for, but cook your soup over medium-low heat at a bare simmer until greens are extremely tender; about 45 minutes.