I love sushi and I love miso soup almosts as much. Last week I discovered just how easy making miso soup is at home. Miso has a rich complex salty and savory flavor to it. I have made a few quick variations of miso soup, but finally decided to make the soup in the traditional way. I found this recipe in Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook. If you haven't bought this book - you must. The book is arranged by techniques and corresponding recipes. Besides the clever arrangement, the pictures are beautiful and clearly show the steps for each technique and recipe.
Miso soup is made from a base of an easy Japanese stock called Dashi. Dashi is used in many Japanese dishes such as dipping sauces, noodles, etc. The ingredients might be a little hard to find at some grocery stores, but stores like Whole Foods Market, Fairway, and any Japanese market will have the ingredients. Before I start explaining how to make the soup, lets talk about a few ingredients (according to Martha's book pages 60-62):
-Miso is fermented soybean paste. Depending on the amount salt and koji (mold used in the fermentation process) used, miso varies in color, flavor, and texture. Lighter versions, such as white miso called for here, have a mild flavor and lower salt content. The darker varieties include reddish-brown and dark-brown pastes that are more robost in flavors.
-Kombu is also known as kelp, and is a type of sundried seaweed that has been processed into sheets. It should should not be rinsed with water before using or it will be lose some of its flavor; instead, lightly wipe with a dry cloth.
-Bonito Flakes are made by boiling, smoking, sun-drying, and then flaking fresh bonito, a type of small tuna. (Note: In my opinion, bonito flakes feel and smell like fish food. The large flakes are tissue paper thin and have a very savory scent to them).-Wakame is another type of seaweed widely used in Japanese cookery, most often in soups and simmered in dishes. It is available fresh or dried; to rehydrate dried wakame, soak in warm water for 20 minutes and drain before using.
To begin miso soup, you must make the dashi broth first.
Ingredients for 6 cups of Dashi:
-3 strips (about 6 inches) kombu, wiped with a dry cloth
-6 cups cold water
-2 cups bonito flakes (do not pack)
Ingredients for 4 cups of miso soup:
-4 cups dashi
-6 ounces silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (Note: I used firm tofu because I like the texture better)
-1/4 cup white miso
-Rehydrated wakame (Note: I used nori because that is what I had around, but was not as good as wakame)
-Scallions for garnish, thinly sliced
To begin combining kombu and water and bring to just under a boil in a medium saucepan, then remove from heat. Use tongs to remove and discard the kombu.
Sprinkle bonito flakes into the pan and let steep until they sink to the botton, about 3 minutes. Strain broth through a fine sieve before using.
Dashi can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
Pour 1/2 cup dashi into a small bowl and set aside. Bring 3 1/2 cups dashi to a simmer in a medium saucepan over moderate heat.
Add cubed tofu and simmer for 2 minutes to heat through.
Stir 3/4 cup miso into the reserved dashi and mix with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour mixture into pan and cook until soup is hot. Do not boil because the miso will lose much of its flavor.
Garnish with scallions and rehydrated wakame.
I like to add udon noodles to my soup to make a more filling version. For a recipe using kale instead of seaweed, click here.