When you are craving miso soup, nothing else will do!
The closest Japanese restaurant to us is a half hour away, so we usually plan ahead of time to make the trek, cravings for sushi or miso soup aside. But miso soup is really simple to make, and in less time than it takes to warm up the car and head out of town, I can have a big pot of the soup waiting for me. Since it was below zero this morning, soup was in order, and miso soup was what I wanted.
A simple soup with complex flavor
A miso soup at its simplest is a dashi stock usually made from kombu (an edible kelp) or other seaweed, bonita flakes, miso paste, scallions, and usually tofu and mushrooms. Simple, yes, but full of flavor of the sea!
The soup is nutritious, only 90 calories a serving, five carbs, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of protein, and a good source of Vitamin C, calcium, and iron. The only drawback is the salt content from the miso, coming in at over 500 grams of sodium per serving. Although salty, the fermented miso adds both flavor and nutrition.
Add bonita flakes if you like, or leave them out
Bonita flakes are from a dried and fermented tuna which also carries a lot of flavor. I prefer the flavor of the stock without the bonita flakes, but if you like the classic taste combination, add a big pinch of flakes along with the seaweed.
You can vary the sea vegetables and miso, which will change the flavor. In this batch, I used Atlantic nori and wakame, both from the state of Maine coast. You can substitute a favorite nori, even use a couple of the sheets of the type used in making sushi. I enjoy the seaweed in the soup, but my friend Rebecca doesn’t like the texture so she always starts the stock with just the seaweed, strains it, and adds the rest of the ingredients. It’s up to you.
The miso I used was a dark three-year barley, but if you want a lighter broth, use white or yellow miso. All of these ingredients I had on hand because they are all perfectly shelf-stable for a long time.
Use a favorite mushroom, or what you have on hand
The only mushrooms in the house happened to be white button, so in they went! I prefer my favorite mushroom, shiitake, in this soup, but I wasn’t about to run to the store when my lunch craving hit. It was way too cold!
The ginger is my variation on the classic, but one I always add!
Quick Miso Soup
1 quart water
1 cup flaked dried nori
1 ounce wakame, crumbled
2 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 heaping tbsp. miso of choice
1/2 brick of tofu, diced
Prep your ingredients: Cut up the tofu into your desired sized cubes and set aside. Crumble your seaweed, remember it will swell up as it hydrates. Cut up your mushrooms and scallions, and grate your ginger.
Bring the water to a simmer over low heat.
Add the nori, wakame, mushrooms, ginger, and scallion.
Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, but do not let this boil.
Take a bit of the broth and mix with the miso, then stir this into the soup well.
Add the tofu, and remove from the heat and serve.
You won’t need to add salt, but you might like a few grinds of pepper.
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