When I think of healthy comfort food, Miso Soup immediately comes to mind. It’s light, it tastes so fresh and is so full of flavor and best of all, it’s quite easy to prepare. I order miso soup every time we eat at our favorite little Japanese restaurant here in town. I usually don’t have to order it because the owner knows I’ll request it. I recently made miso soup for the first time and was blown away by how easy and delicious it turned out.
Miso soup is a very versatile soup. You can make it with vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, meat or seafood. The key ingredient is miso which is a Japanese soybean paste commonly found in dressings and marinades. I set out on a journey to recreate this soup and although my intentions were to make it as pure and as authentic as possible, I had a few stumbling blocks. These weren’t bad stumbling blocks, they just sent me on a different path but the resulting soup was incredibly delicious.
I knew the basic ingredients to miso soup were Dashi (Japanese soup stock) and Kombu (dried kelp) both of which I could not find at my local grocery. I asked the sushi chef at our HEB grocery what he suggested because my heart was really set on making this Miso soup and I wasn’t going to give up that easily. This wonderful man told me he had miso paste in the refrigerator in the back (they didn’t keep it on the shelf) and he would bring some out to me. He returned minutes later with a package of miso paste and told me it would keep a very long time in my refrigerator. He informed me that this would be exactly what I needed and to add vegetable broth and any other foods I wanted and it would be perfect.
With my confidence boosted, I was ready to tackle a new version of miso soup. Using vegetable broth as my base, I added three sliced green onions and finely chopped kale and let it simmer slowly on the stove. To that, I added diced tofu and continued to let the soup simmer so that the tofu absorbed all the wonderful flavors. After about ten minutes, I removed the pot from the heat and stirred in the miso paste. Here’s the important secret…DO NOT stir in the miso paste while the soup is cooking. Always turn off the heat, then stir in the paste. Please just trust me, you don’t want to boil the miso.
I don’t like a salty soup and I found the miso paste salty enough so I didn’t add any salt. Feel free to add salt to suit your taste.
Pretty simple…pretty easy. Give it a try, you’ll love it!
Just a couple of things about miso paste… although I couldn’t find miso paste on the shelf in my grocery, please ask because it might be stored in bulk in the back of the store. Also, many stores do carry miso paste on the shelf so be sure to look around. As I mentioned, miso paste will keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Just make sure you keep it in the back part of the fridge and in a sealed container. You can use miso paste in salad dressings mixed with a little olive oil and lemon juice or in marinades and is especially good on broiled salmon.
**Also, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen has a great post on making miso soup with dashi so it’s a good place to start.