My passion for soups and stews grows stronger as each autumn day passes and winter quickly approaches. Warming foods like these warm the body and soul and allow the dark, slow days of Fall to joyously pass with ease. In addition to the comfort they provide, a well-timed bowl of soup or hearty stew also have the uncanny ability ease the symptoms of seasonal sickness or even avoid them all together! One of the best things you can do to really boost the nourishment of each bowl of soup or stew is by utilizing one of my all-time favorite culinary tools: homemade broth.
Homemade broth is one of my favorite ways to amplify the physical and emotional satisfaction I receive from a large bowl of soup or stew by improving the nutritional profile and nourishment these simple foods provide. And, although I am a huge proponent of bone broth, I never miss the opportunity to prepare a plant-based, super-food infused kombu dashi. Kombu is a type of seaweed (a kelp) and dashi is the Japanese word for this type of broth. A super-simple, nutrient dense and extremely tasty upgrade to any variety of soup or stew, integrating kombu dashi can be a valuable tool in healing the body and promoting lasting health and wellness.
Kombu Dashi, a subtle, umami-rich stock, is an extremely versatile base for soups and stews that can be prepared in a very short amount of time to enhance all your cool weather meals. Receiving the majority of its therapeutic value from the often overlooked seaweed family, broths made from kombu can infuse your meal with a wealth of essential minerals like iodine (which is often deficient in plant-heavy diets), and is loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12 and C, which support healthy organ function and immunity. Sea vegetables like kombu also contain an abundance of antioxidants and a substance called alginic acid, which stimulates the endocrine and nervous systems to aid in the release of toxins that accumulate within the body.
In addition to recognizing sea vegetables as an amazing source of essential vitamins and minerals, physicians and scientists are now promoting the medicinal value of seaweed. Diets rich in sea vegetables are associated with lower risk for colorectal and breast cancers, improved thyroid function and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, by helping the body to recover from periods of high stress, sea veggies are able to support adrenal function, which is important in capturing vitality, energy and lasting health.
The proverbial cherry on top of the healthy living cake is that kombu dashi is extremely easy to prepare and requires a fairly small time investment. All you need to capture the vibrant health found in kombu is a large stock pot, kelp, water and around 30 minutes. Here is my recipe for super-simple kombu dashi:
- 1 6-inch strip of dried kombu
- 6 cups water
- Combine kombu and water in a stockpot and let soak for approximately 20 minutes.
- Bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat and gently simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove kombu and use stock as a soup base or store for later use.
Finding high quality kombu may be the most difficult part of the process, but most health food stores and Asian groceries should carry a healthy variety of sea vegetables. If you still have trouble getting your hands on some, Eden Organics is of high repute and you can purchase kombu through their website.