Monday, September 27, 2010

Seaweed Soup From the Seaweed Man


Seaweed just keeps popping up at the farm and for good reason too.  This interesting and powerful plant not only makes our soil healthier, but our bodies as well.  You may remember seaweed from such posts as Some Help From Some Kelp where we not only dove into the ocean, but into the positive impacts kelp can have even on plants right on your windowsill and Till, Rake, Rattle and Roll where we amended greenhouse soil beds using dried kelp powder to strengthen the soil.  This week Matt and I found ourselves lucky enough to sit in on a seaweed class, at Stone Barns, with none other than...

To Skip right to the Seaweed Soup Recipe

Larch "The Seaweed Man" Hanson of Maine Seaweed, LLC in Steuben Maine.  For forty years, Larch, his family and a large variety of apprentices have harvested seaweeds of all different local varieties found within five miles of his home.  Before Larch taught us how to make seaweed soup, he walked us through an understanding of the seaweeds he finds, the extensive process of harvesting and drying them and finally the health benefits of this easily neglected medicinal gem.

Seaweed is known to reduce stress and fatigue, strengthen the glandular and nervous systems and is used in alternative medicines where it is widely believed to help in the prevention of certain cancers.  These are just some of the benefits we discussed in class, there are tons of websites and books on the topic if you are interested.

With a small setup and an electric stove, Larch managed to produce some delicious and nutritious soup.

Unfortunately, I was only able to get a few pictures of The Seaweed Man's soup making process so I decided, what better way to share this experience than attempt to create my own soup using his recipe as a guide.  I bought a half pound bag of the same dried seaweed mix used in the class, which contained dried Alaria, Digitata, and Kelp.  Since you only need a little bit of dried seaweed per pot of soup, a half pound bag can last you a long time and is well worth the value.

When I got home, I opened the bag of dried seaweed to find this beautifuly simple, yet motivational poem inside called "Green and Alert," written by Larch:

And with that...away we go.  I didn't have all the same ingredients as The Seaweed Man, but he did give me the "okay" to put my own spin on things.  The list of ingredients I chose to use includes:  dried seaweed, barley, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, basil, thyme, parsley, garlic, onion and Spigarelli, which is a type of broccoli/kale that does not produce florets like regular broccoli; a very nutrient rich green vegetable.

We learned that pairing barley or rice with the dried seaweed is a good way to tell when your seaweed is cooked enough, that is unless you're like me and have no idea when the barley is cooked enough.  Hmm...well there's no better way to learn than through experience so for those of you novices like myself, we're going to learn how to cook/ruin rice, barley and seaweed all at the same time!

After rinsing the barley, I dumped it into a pot of boiling water alongside the seaweed and let the natural timer begin.  Since I had to wait for these two dry ingredients to boil into the soup stock, I got to cutting the root vegetbales, greens, onion and garlic for the next step.

Every once in a while I would taste the barley and seaweed.  Once it was finally nice and soft, I added the chopped carrots, potatoes and zucchini.

I let that boil until these vegetable were nice and soft too.  Finally, I added the onion, garlic, spigarelli, parsley, basil and little bit of thyme.  At this point it's good to let all the ingredients sit on medium to low heat for as long as you'd like.  I left it for about an hour before I had my first bowl and then let it simmer on low for a few more, stirring every once in a while (just to feel like I was doing something).  Add salt and pepper to taste, although I highly recommend adding a decent amount of pepper because it gives the soup a nice little kick.  That's it, you're all set.  Eat some, share some, freeze some, impress your friends with it, do whatever makes you happy.

For those of you who may be asking the question "isn't it bad to eat all that salt found in seaweed?" Well I thought the same thing at first, but it's important to remember a few things.  As The Seaweed Man puts it on his website, "don't fear salt.  Salt is necessary to life.  If you're willing to sweat, the salt will go through you" and it's always important to remember that balance and moderation are key in anything you do.  All salts are not created equal and the complex salts found in seaweed are actually very good for our bodies because of the various minerals that can help build a stronger immune system.  You may not even know that most of the fast foods and other processed foods so prevalent in American society contain table salt in the form of Sodium Chloride, which is a byproduct of salt crystal processing and does not hold many health benefits at all and in large doses can be harmful to your body.  Why is this chemically processed salt so common?  Well it's a byproduct of another process so it's cheap.  It's always helpful to have the knowledge to make the right decisions even if it's something as small as knowing what's going into your salt shaker.

If you've been motivated to try some seaweed of your own and see how you feel, you can buy it right from the ocean at or check out you're nearest Japanese market.  Come back and let us know how it goes.


Seaweed Soup Recap

3 tablespoons of dried seaweed blend
3/4 cup of rinsed barley
4 chopped carrots
1 small bunch of Parsley
1 small bunch of spigarelli
a few basil leaves
2 chopped Zucchini
1 chopped onion
3 sliced cloves of garlic

Simultaneously place dried seaweed and barley in a pot of boiling water.  Let sit until barley and seaweed are soft enough to eat, then add carrots, zucchini and potatoes.  Once those are soft, add the onion, garlic, parsley, spigarelli and let sit on med/low.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


  1. That soup looks great! I think on occasion I've thrown some snack nori into homemade soup, but apart from a "failed" miso I haven't committed to making seaweed a first class soup citizen.

  2. I think your website is wonderful.
    I met you years ago at one of my macro pot luck dinners in Cape Elizabeth/Portland.
    I will be placing an order but do you carry Arame?


    Thank you for you.

    1. HI Teresa,

      Thank you for the kind words about the site, but unfortunately, I am not the seaweed man, only a farmer/reporter who spent time learning and working with him after being as inspired as it seems you may have been as well. Larch Hanson's website is and blog

      I hope you were interested by what you saw here at and will check back in with us soon. Until then, enjoy the seaweed!

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