Pick Me Up Soup

pick me up soup


This amazingly nourishing soup is something I’ve been cooking since university days, after discovering the flavours of South East Asia and combining them with the magically revitalising effects of miso. It’s brilliant stuff and very reliable in getting you on your feet again after feeling unwell or just a bit lethargic and lacking in energy. This soup explodes and zings with goodness and flavour. As with most of my recipes so far, this one can be adapted to incorporate anything you fancy once you’ve got the basics in place; lean chunks of pork instead of prawns, thin slices of lean beef, chicken or just simple veg.  Potatoes/sweet potatoes, rice noodles or white rice can added for more carbs. Bone broth of some sort (chicken in this instance) is important but when unavailable you can just add extra miso.

Miso is a wonderful ingredient and for a super-speedy mini ‘pick me up soup’ I’ve regularly just made it in a mug with just a few added condiments and flavours. It works every time. The important thing to bear in mind with miso is that it contains living organisms (a bit like lactobacillus in live yogurt) and I think as long as you add it right at the end of cooking, after the soup has come off the boil then you won’t be killing off the live enzymes and nullifying the ‘pick me up’ qualities.

I will do a bone broth post at some point, but it’s really easy. You just gently simmer your roasted chicken carcass, beef or fish bones for several hours – (at least 6 for chicken and 10-12 for beef, less for fish) add a bay leaf or two and when done and cooled, spoon off the fat and strain off for lovely gelatinous liquor. You want to get as much minerals and flavour out of the bones as possible so don’t skimp on simmering time. I have heard of people simmering their beef bones for 36 hrs!


1 dessertspoon coconut oil
3 pints chicken stock or other bone broth
1 large onion (finely chopped)
thumb-size piece of fresh ginger (finely chopped or grated)
Lots of garlic! I used a whole bulb.(finely chopped or sliced)
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 fresh chilli (a hot one) adjust to taste
1 tsp thai curry paste (mixed in a mug with hot water)
1 large carrot (julienned)
1 medium courgette (julienned)
1/4 red cabbage (finely sliced)
bunch of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp brown rice miso (mix with a bit of hot water in a mug to thin to pouring consistency)
1 pack of 250g frozen prawns
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 spring onions (finely chopped on the diagonal)
50-100g creamed coconut (chopped into a powdery form)
a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes or fresh chilli.


  • Warm the broth to boiling temperature and set aside to simmer gently
  • In a medium pan, fry the onion in the coconut oil.
  • Add ginger, chilli, and veg. Add any other veg (like potatoes), or meat at this point too.
  • Add garlic and lime leaves.
  • Add broth, then coconut. I added 1 tsp of ras el hanout at this point (this is why the soup looks quite yellow in the photo). Not necessary, but I sometimes add some other spices…thai curry paste, or a bit of pataks paste for example.
  • Allow to simmer away on a low heat for 20 minutes, or until meat is cooked, so maybe a bit longer.
  • Once cooked, add the prawns, (or rice noodles if that’s where you’re going) lemon juice, most of the coriander (keep a bit for garnishing) and miso and stir well.
  • The frozen prawns will bring the temperature down to the point where it can be eaten straight away so you don’t have to wait around or warm back up again. If you do, bear in the mind the thing about the miso not getting to boiling point.
  • The miso is quite salty so go easy on the salt and adjust to taste along with the pepper.
  • Dish out into large, deep bowls and don’t have bread. You won’t need to as this is quite filling, especially with added potatoes or rice or rice noodles.
  • Garnish with the remaining coriander, the spring onions and flaked chilli.(Matthew)





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