I don’t know exactly what it is about miso soup, but I absolutely love it! Some say that it’s the umami – you know your 5th taste – that makes this soup so irresistible. I have been craving this soup for a couple of days so I finally made it. I don’t know if it’s the recently cold weather we have here in Charleston. It was in the mid 60’s on Christmas Day and I was thrilled it got cold enough the last two days that I could wear my new wool sweater that I got for Christmas. Anyway I guess that’s why I have been craving soup!
Miso is one of those soups that can be made a hundred different ways. If you search the Internet for a miso soup recipe then you will see what I mean. I like mine pretty close to the traditional method. It is one of those recipes where you can use what you have on hand. Miso is fermented soybean paste. Its hard to describe but the taste is strangely reminiscent of Parmigiano-reggiano. I’ve never considered myself a big lover of tofu, but I have recently started cooking with it. It’s not as bad as you think it is. In most dishes it takes on the flavor of whatever it’s in. However, if you don’t like tofu, feel free to leave it out. It doesn’t really make or break the dish. It just makes it more filling with the added protein.
Seaweed is used to make the dashi broth for the miso soup. The seaweed contains folate, calcium, iron, vitamin A, C, E, and K. It also contains iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid functioning. The use of soy in the diet of estrogen-receptive breast cancer patients is somewhat controversial because of the isoflavinoids that mimic estrogen. On the advice of my doctor, I am allowed to have soy in moderation. If you have had estrogen receptive cancer consult your doctor for their approval. You could also omit the soy by leaving out the tofu and replacing the miso with adzuki bean miso if you prefer.
Note: be sure not to boil the miso paste after adding it to the soup. It can kill the natural probiotics that the miso naturally contains and it also destroys the flavor and consistency of the miso. You can also use instant dashi or chicken stock rather than making your own dashi like I did in the recipe below.
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 piece (about 4 inches) kombu, wiped with a damp cloth
- 2/3 cup bonito flakes
- 1 package oyster mushrooms, sliced (if you can’t find these you can use shitake or other mushrooms)
- ½ small bunch of baby bok choy, sliced in ½ inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- 1 block (14 ounces) firm tofu, cubed
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (optional)
- 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
- roasted seaweed snack, cut in ½ inch strips for garnish (optional)
- For the dashi, place the water in a pan with the kombu and bring the water to a boil. Remove the kombu and add the bonito flakes. Stir and allow the flakes to settle. Strain the broth and discard the flakes.
- Return the stock to a boil and add the mushrooms and the baby bok choy. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
- Take a ladle of the both and place in a bowl. Add the miso and whisk to incorporate. Add the miso mixture back to the pan.
- Add the cubed tofu, chili garlic sauce and stir.
- Ladle into bowls and top with sliced green onions and roasted seaweed.