Miso soup has steadily been increasing in popularity over the last few decades. A staple food among the Japanese since ancient times, miso first began to gain favor with vegetarians and health nuts in the 1970's because of its health benefits (among other things, miso is packed full of protein which vegetarians sometimes lack). Miso paste comes in several varieties. White or "shiro" miso is mild and sweet whereas the red and brown versions have a stronger, salty flavor. I like to use a combination of white and brown miso paste when I make this soup but use whatever you like. The recipe calls for anywhere from 1-1/2 to 3 tablespoons of miso because, depending on the type you use or your own preferences, you may want to use more or less. Dashi is the traditional broth used in miso soup. It is made from kombu, a type of kelp, and bonito flakes, dried fish that has been processed into flakes (see "Cooking Tips" below for a vegetarian alternative to dashi). Great flavor aside, this soup is incredibly quick and easy to make!
Miso Soup
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a 4 inch piece of kombu (optional)
4 cups water
1 cup dried bonito flakes
1-1/2 to 3 tablespoons miso paste
1/2 pound tofu, cut into small cubes
4 scallions, chopped

Cooking Instructions

Wipe the kombu with a dry cloth to remove any dirt (but avoid removing the white, powdery substance on the surface). Place the kombu in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (or, if you aren't using the kombu, simply put the water in a pot and bring it to a boil). As soon as the water begins to bubble, stir in the bonito flakes. Turn off the heat and let rest for several minutes until the bonito flakes settle to the bottom of the pot. Strain through a cloth or fine sieve and discard the used kombu and bonito flakes.

In a small bowl, whisk the miso paste together with about 1/2 cup of the broth until fully dissolved and set aside. Transfer the remaining broth to a clean pot. Bring to a simmer and add the tofu. Cook for just another moment to allow the tofu to heat through. Add the broth with the miso dissolved in it and remove from heat (you don't want to let the soup come to a boil once the miso has been added). Serve in bowls garnished with the chopped scallions.

Makes 4 servings



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Whether you are making soup or using miso paste for another purpose, you want to make sure never to boil it. Boiling kills the live cultures in miso which are so beneficial to the body. It also has an adverse affect on the taste of the miso.

For a vegetarian alternative to dashi try this easy stock recipe: In a medium pot, simmer a few garlic cloves, several slices of fresh ginger, a handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, and a tablespoon of soy sauce with 2 quarts of water for about 1 hour and then drain. Use 4 cups of this stock to make the miso soup above.

This recipe makes the most basic miso soup but, it can easily be expanded upon. Spinach, bok choy, carrots, snow peas, and green beans are all delicious cooked in miso soup. You can also throw in some udon noodles for a heartier soup.

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