Umami is the fifth taste, after sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
Both the tongue and the stomach have receptors for the taste which can be described as savory or meaty. The umami receptors signal the body to start digesting foods, especially proteins. Umami is an underlying taste that makes everything else in this soup taste more delicious and appetizing. When you make this soup, make a lot, because you are going to have a good appetite! This soup doesn’t use meat or Japanese fish flakes for its basic stock. Instead it relies on plant-based ingredients that are umami-rich: digitata kelp, shiitake mushrooms, and tamari. We use this soup year-round and vary the ingredients according to what is available from our garden and cupboards.