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Five-Vegetable Miso Stew

Serves 4, as a main course


2 tablespoons olive oil, extra for drizzling 
1 bunch scallions
1 large onion
1 large sweet potato
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
2 cups Roma tomatoes
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari sauce or soy sauce
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of miso
Enough kale for 3 cups lightly packed cut leaves
2 whole-wheat pitas

©2010 Ming Tsai - from Simply Ming One-Pot Meals used with permission from Kyle Books


Thinly slice the scallions, separating the green and white parts.  Mince the onion.  Cut the sweet potato into ½-inch dice. Prepare the tomatoes by chopping roughly, saving the juice.  Stem the kale and cut the kale leaves into  ¼-inch strips.

Heat a stockpot or other tall wide pot over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the scallion whites, onions and sweet potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onions have browned lightly, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, tomatoes with their juice, stock and tamari.

Place the miso in a small strainer, submerge it in the stockpot, and whisk it until it has dispersed into the liquid and remove the strainer. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Bring the stew to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft and the liquid is reduced by a quarter, about 10 minutes.  Adjust the seasoning again, if necessary.

Add the kale and simmer until soft, 1-2 minutes. Taste the seasoning a final time and adjust, if necessary.

Toast and quarter the pitas.  Transfer the stew to four individual soup bowls. Drizzle with the olive oil and serve with the pita.

Did you know?

The reason onions cause cooks to tear so readily at very low concentrations of volatile molecules is that the cornea of the eye has 600 times the density of nerve endings compared to the skin.  The tearing effect of onions can be lessened by placing them in a freezer for 10 minutes or in a refrigerator for 1 hour before peeling or chopping.

Lycopene is at higher concentration in the skin of tomatoes so avoid peeling and discarding tomato skin for the most health benefit.

Heating tomatoes such as sauteeing or stewing them in the cooking process, increases the amount of lycopene that is bioavailable; heating tomatoes at 190°F for 30 minutes increases the lycopene by ten-fold.

Kale, a member of the "cruciferous vegetables", is a rich source of glucosinolates that serve as the plant's natural defense system. Cutting and crushing the vegetable releases these glucosinolates which impart a tasty bitterness and also helps activate their cancer fighting properties; therefore, chewing kale is part of practicing good health. But this activity degrades with exposure to air and room temperature so kale is best consumed promptly after preparing.

Fermented soy products (miso, natto, and tempeh) have more bioactive molecules than those that are non-fermented (tofu, edamame). This is because beta glucosidase from bacteria cleaves sugar off isoflavones in soy, converting them into the active compounds diadzein, genistein, and glycetein.

Japanese miso soup is made with dashi broth (from kombu seaweed) and often cubes of tofu. As miso soup settles, clouds of miso form and drift by thermal convection through the hot broth, creating the soup’s characteristic murky appearance.

Scallions are green onions that have not yet developed their bulbs.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest gave sweet potato its highest ranking of all vegetables, based on dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients

Although a starchy vegetable, sweet potato has a low glycemic index, so it is digested slowly, resulting in a gradual rise in blood sugar. Other components in sweet potato may combat hyperglycemia. An oral extract of the white sweet potato (sold as Caiapo in Japan) decreased fasting blood glucose by 11%, and hemoglobin A1C by over 7%, in human subjects with Type 2 diabetes compared to placebo controls.


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