Introduction: Classic Miso Soup
Miso soup is a favorite amongst Japanese food lovers. Though unbeknownst to many, in Japan, miso soup is not just a restaurant treat, but actually eaten everyday for breakfast. Or at least when I was living with my Japanese country mama, that's what I was served every time for my first meal of the day. On dark, cold winter mornings, I looked forward to warming my body up with a steaming bowl of miso soup. Now, you can too!
The recipe I'm sharing here is for classic miso soup as we know it -- a rich broth with soft tofu and seaweed, garnished with fresh green onions. You can eat it as is, or you can think of it as a creative springboard into the world of miso soup possibilities. In the spirit of my Japanese country mama, throw in some onions, leeks, or chunks of potato. Chop up some carrots and throw those in too. Crumble in that leftover piece of fish from last night's dinner. Drop in some fresh oysters or scallops. At the end of my recipe here, I'll share with you my favorite little twist.
All right, let's do this!
Step 1: Ingredients
Here's what you'll need. Yields two small servings.
500 mL of water
1 piece of dried konbu kelp
10 grams of dried bonito flakes
1.5 tablespoons of miso paste
5 grams of wakame (a very small handful)
100 grams of silken tofu (about a third of a typical package, as seen in the picture)
1 sprig of green onions
Note: There's a myriad of miso paste varieties, each with their own flavor and texture. I went with shiro miso (white miso), but any kind will do.
Let's get started on our soup base. There are two components to our soup stock: dried kelp and the bonito flakes. If you can only get your hands on one of these, or you happen to be a vegetarian and want to leave out the fish component, that's totally fine. Personally, I feel that both ingredients in combination lend to a lovely depth of flavor.
Pour the water into a small pot. Take one piece of dried konbu kelp, and use a paper towel to wipe off some of the excess residue on the konbu. Drop it into the pot of water. Turn the flame to low heat and let the konbu sit in the water for 10-15 minutes. You don't want to bring the water to a boil because the konbu kelp will begin to get slimy.
Remove the konbu kelp.
After removing the konbu, add the bonito flakes and turn the heat up to high. Let it boil for 5-6 minutes. Strain the bonito flakes and turn the heat down to low.
Now you've got your soup base.
Drop the dried wakame into the pot.
You may not think that you have enough, but as your can tell from the picture, the wakame plumps up as it absorbs the broth.
Time to add the miso.
Spoon the miso onto a small strainer. Using a spoon, push the miso through and let it dissolve into the broth. The strainer guarantees that you won't have any hidden globs of miso. Also, some varieties of miso have some particles in it that are completely fine to eat, but by running it through a strainer, you'll be rewarded with a smoother soup.
Friendly tip #1: Depending on your taste, you may want to add a little bit of extra water or miso to adjust the level of saltiness.
Chop up the green onions and throw them into the pot.
Carefully remove the tofu from the package. Slice off about a quarter of the block (you can also measure out 50 grams), and dice it into small, bite size cubes. Gently drop it into the pot.
Friendly tip #2: Be careful when you handle the tofu. It's very soft and breaks quite easily, which is why I like to add it last. Don't stir too vigorously or you'll end up with tofu crumbs.
Serve it up and enjoy!
My favorite twist: I love adding a dash of curry into my miso soup. It adds a subtle but distinctive flavor, and just another layer of yum.
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