Simple Miso Soup

This post may be uninteresting to you, especially since Japanese food in America has been wildly popular for the past few years. It’s a simple recipe for Miso Soup. And I am so excited about it!

I guess I missed the boat on this one—when all of my friend’s were lapping up miso soup in college, when I skimmed over blog posts and recipes of it uninspired, when I chose the gyoza over it in restaurants. I never cared to even try miso soup until one day last spring, when Jim and I were in New York for a play and (more importantly) a fancy dinner. We chose a restaurant, well-received on Zagat, whose name has vanished from my memory. Every item on the menu, save for the miso soup Jim ordered, was either unremarkable or inedible. I finally gave in and tried Jim’s soup out of hungry desperation. It was delicious! I loved the salty, briny flavor of the dashi and went wild for the crunchy green onions. I mostly stayed away from the tofu, thinking that I was allergic to it after I had a reaction to a soy-gingerbread latte a few months prior.

Since then, I’ve learned that I’m not allergic to tofu and also that I just don’t care for it. So, I’ve been hunting for a comprable miso soup in sushi places and gourmet shops since last spring, hoping beyond hope to find one that focuses as much on the other ingredients as it does on the tofu and not having to break the bank for it. I was unlucky to the point of being turned off by miso soup altogether—almost to the point of forgetting about it, until my soup obsession started this winter. I don’t know why I never made miso soup myself before but I should really give myself a kick in the ass. It’s so wonderfully easy—and I can make it to my tastes! Don’t like tofu? Screw the tofu!

So, that’s why I’m so excited about this simple miso soup. I see it as a jumping off point for me—today’s post is the classic miso, tofu and all, but next week I’ll try something different. Eventually I’m sure I’ll come up with my ultimate miso soup. The combination of the sea-laced kombu dashi with salty red miso is the broth-soup jump-off point of my dreams (wow, I really am turning into a soup-nut.) And to top it all off, miso soup is healthy and beneficial to my lazy winter immune system—maybe one of the reasons I’m already feeling better!

Miso Soup

Don’t let the ingredient list scare you off—they were all stocked in my supermarket without my knowing. I asked the clerk, thinking it was hopeless, if he had kombu and bonito flakes and the wonderful man said of course! and then politely gave me a lesson on how to make the best miso soup. Also, the ingredients store easily in the pantry—a plus in my book.

For the dashi:

  • 1 strip kombu, scored a bit with the tip of your knife
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup bonito flakes (dried tuna)

For the miso soup:

  • Prepared dashi
  • 1/3 cup red miso (you can use white or yellow if you think red is too strong)
  • 2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced

To make the dashi: Combine kombu strip and water. Bring to a simmer but do not let boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove kombu with tongs and discard (or save for another use.) Add bonito flakes and simmer for a few more minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve.

To make soup: Place dashi back on stove, reserving about a cup in a heatproof bowl. Whisk miso into the cup, combining well. Pour combined miso back into the dashi and stir. Add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Add green onions, turn off heat and let it sit for another minute. Serve.


QUESTION! QUESTION!  Do you have any interesting (or simple) miso soup recipes or tips?? I’d love to hear them!