Zen in a Bowl: Coconut Miso Soup

Miso and coconut are two of my most favorite ingredients. One I was introduced to only in recent years, and the other is something I grew up eating almost every day in my Konkani home where coconut was part of just about any recipe.

Both have transcendental health qualities – miso, a fermented bean paste, is believed to prevent some kinds of cancer and is rich in wonderful enzymes that aid digestion. Coconut, while high in saturated fat, is still one of the healthiest foods you can eat, not to mention one of the tastiest. To a vegan, coconut milk- which is loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals- is particularly valuable because it works wonderfully as a cream substitute in most recipes. Plus, it tastes way better than calorie-loaded cow fat.

For those new to cooking with miso, there are a variety of miso pastes available in Asian stores and supermarkets, but a beginner might want to go with a mild-tasting one when you first try this soup. Miso is very salty, so remember that when you plan to add it to a recipe, you will want to hold back on the salt. Also, in a cooked dish, add miso at the very end, because boiling it can kill the healthful enzymes.

I am sending this recipe as my entry to AFAM-Coconut, hosted this month by Suganya.
As anyone who has been to my blog before would know, I cook a lot with coconut, but this one, Suganya, is very special to me. It gets ready in no time and always leaves me feeling like I’ve done something good for myself.

Coconut Miso Soup


4 cups water (even better, use light, vegetable stock if you have some on hand. Make sure it has no salt, though.)

1 14-oz can light coconut milk

4 tbsp barley miso

8 large button mushrooms, sliced very thin

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup of seaweed, cut in pieces (optional- I use any seaweed I have on hand, but my hubby is not a big fan of seaweed so I do leave it out often enough. It doesn’t really hurt the dish)

1 cup brown rice, cooked

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp canola oil

7-8 fresh basil leaves

Heat canola oil in a soup pot. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until they begin to caramelize just slightly.

Add the ginger and stir in

Add the water and then the seaweed, if using. Let it come to a boil. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the cooked brown rice and stir in.

Meanwhile, mix the miso paste in the coconut milk, adding some of the warm soup stock if necessary, until no lumps remain.

Take the soup off the heat, and then add the miso-coconut mixture to it.

Tear in some fresh basil leaves and serve hot.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    I’ve heard a lot about miso and its health benefits but have never tried it before. Those are some useful tips you have there for those of us wanting to use it for the first time.
    The soup sounds very filling and comforting!

  2. debra says

    Hello – I’ve just come across your blog, and I can’t believe quite how wonderful it is. It’s also incredibly useful to me because I’m an Australian vegan who’s considering moving to Chennai for a year. The move would be to to work for an organisation I really believe in. One of the only things that’s holding me back is fear about coping as a vegan in Channai. I know the south is generally better than the north in this respect, but I’m wondering if you had any suggestions about how to avoid dairy in Chennai successfully. I’d be really grateful if you had any suggestions of dishes to order in restaurants and explanations to give people who don’t understand veganism. Please don’t worry if these are not questions you can really answer – and sorry for the epic comment on your blog – best wishes, debra

  3. says

    Debra, It is quite easy to avoid dairy in the south of India where, I find, people tend to use fewer dairy products in cooked dishes than in the north, with the big exception being sweets of course that are almost always dairy based.
    Foods like idlis, dosas, vadas, sambars and raasams, all wonderful and delicious staples of the Tamil diet, are almost certainly dairy-free. When you eat out and order even something that claims to be vegetarian, be sure you tell the waiter that you do not want any ghee, yogurt, milk or cream in your food. It is a good idea to mention each product because veganism is not a concept understood in India yet and it is necessary to spell things out. Dosas might sometimes be made with butter or ghee so make sure you specify that you want them to use plain oil instead.
    Also visit http://www.indianvegan.com which is a helpful resource on the subject. Manish Jain, who runs it, is helpful and might have some contacts for you in Chennai that might help. His email’s at the site.
    Hope that helps a little. Please don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any other questions.

    • says

      I buy my miso at New Season (which is a Pacific NW grocery store). I am sure you could find in at a Whole Foods or Fresh and Fast, or some other natural food store.

  4. Anonymous says

    This is a delicious soup. I followed the recipe exactly but did add some scallions. It is a much heartier soup than any miso soup I’ve ever ordered from a restaurant. Yummy!

  5. says

    Thanks for posting this! I used black kale instead of seaweed, and I didn’t have coconut milk on hand, but I did have coconut water, and I used udon noodles instead of brown rice :)

  6. Anonymous says

    Delish! I added some chicken and Thai rice noodles instead of the rice and it turned out great! You know it is good when your picky 15 year old slurps it down and asks for more! Thanks Holy Cow!

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