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Watercress – miso soup

When I was at university my best friend got me interested in Chinese medicine and the five elements theory. I was really fascinated by cooking according to the five elements and bought a lot of books. People probably thought we were witches as we had really, really long hair, were wearing bohemian clothes and talked about yin and yang, Earth becoming weak and not supporting Metal, etc. I had a poster on the wall which looked like a pentagram, but was simply a chart with all the foods I was using in a different section (element they belonged to). I’m still into all that jazz but my friend went even further. After studying ancient Greek and Latin, Agriculture, Biology, Nursing and Art, she started studying Chinese medicine. I was ecstatic when I found out, but she warned me that 7 years is one hell of a commitment and she might drop out at some point. Fingers crossed she won’t.

Last time she visited me she recommended me a book: ‘Ancient Wisdom Modern Kitchen’ by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir and Mika Ono. The book is a hit, absolutely amazing.

And because it’s Chinese New Year I’m going to share a recipe with you for my favourite soup. The inspiration is taken from the book but it’s my variation. Enjoy!

watercress-miso soup

watercress-miso soup


Watercress – miso soup


2 cups of mushrooms (fresh enoki or mitake if you can find them, I’m sometimes using any mushrooms I can get – chestnut or portobello)

2 1/2 vegetable stock or water

1/2 block of tofu (I’m using a whole pack of marinated quorn tofu)

3-4 tablespoons of white miso

1 spoon of red miso

1 spoon of sesame oil

bunch of watercress

chopped green onion

small bunch of Japanese udon noodles


1. Wash and chop mushrooms.

2.Bring the vegetable stock/water to the boil. Add mushrooms, udon noddles, sesame oil and tofu, simmer over low heat, covered with the lid slightly ajar for about 8-13 minutes. Turn of the heat.

3. Remove 4 tablespoons of the stock from the pot and, in a bowl, mix it with the miso paste, making sure there is no lumps left.

4. Gradually pour miso mixture back into the pot and stir.

5. Divide watercress among the serving bowls. Spoon the soup over watercress. Garnish with the green onion.

Happy Dragon’s Year!



About potatofaces

People who cook always go on about precious memories of childhood food one of their family members cooked, how daddy or nanny taught them the importance of cooking and eating together, and they still remember the comfort food they produced, amazing dishes whipped up by brilliant but humble cooks in their family. Well, let me tell you, it was totally different in my family. My mother’s family – totally useless as cooks, who could survive on bread and butter, cooked once a week a terrible, terrible meal, usually some kind of meat piece with lots of brown sauce. Also, they were never bothered about eating together. That’s maybe why most of them were depressed and suicidal. My mother followed that path and couldn’t really cook, and because I never wanted to eat meat, was warning me that ‘one day I will regret it’. Probably because my mother wasn’t into cooking my sister at the age of 12 took over and started producing amazing dinners and cakes. Well, luckily for me and her we weren’t that genetically doomed because apparently my father’s family were gifted in that compartment. I can only presume it was genes, as my father divorced my mother when my sis and me were little and he strongly believed that he also divorced us. So, we were growing up never having any contact with him and as a result, couldn’t learn how to cook from him. That’s why I believe the love of cooking ( and the ability) was just passed to us genetically. My father, short time before he died, unexpectedly felt an urge to contact us. First he gave my sister a mandolin (that’s another thing I know about him- he played a few instruments). My sister refused to talk to him, he then decided to contact me and wanted to spend some time with me. I didn’t want to, as he was a stranger to me (I was 11 or 12 at the time) but as I was promised I could leave whenever I wanted to, I went to the village he lived in. There I tried his mother’s cooking everyone was raving about. It was simple and amazing, I wish they were as family dedicated as they were at baking, cooking, making pastries, wine, tinctures, you name it. But I ate, drunk, and got bored of strangers who were my family and demanded to be let to go home. One of the last things my father said to me was that I should start learning English because I might need it one day, which I ignored for another 16 years… Because my sister was such a domestic goddess I wasn’t really bothered about cooking. I got hooked properly after my son was born and I wanted him to eat healthy and get everything he needed, especially that it wasn’t his choice to be a vegetarian (yet). And that is how the story begins…

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