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Like many Japanese dishes, miso soup starts with dashi, a simple broth of simmered kombu (an umami superstar among dried sea vegetables) and dried bonito flakes. To make the dashi into miso soup, you simply add a heaping spoonful of miso (a fermented soy—and sometimes rice or barley—product) and whatever vegetables, starches and proteins you like.
If you’ve never cooked with these ingredients before, don’t be intimidated. The process is very simple, and the results are very good. You’ll often hear people who grew up eating Japanese food talk about miso soup as the ultimate comfort food. Although I didn’t grow up with it, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a wholesome, holistic take on comfort, one that soothes both with its deep, rich flavors and with its obvious nutritive benefits.
All the ingredients for dashi and miso soup are available at Whole Foods and through the Amazon links in the recipe.
Make the dashi (broth)
- Place the kombu in a medium pot. You don’t need to rinse it, even if the package says you do. Pour in the water. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Bring the water with the kombu in it to a boil. When it boils, turn down the heat and let it simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and add the bonito flakes. Let steep for 10 minutes, then strain the broth through cheesecloth or a coffee strainer into a clean pot.
Make the miso soup
- Return strained broth to a low boil. Ladle out about a quarter cup of the broth into a small bowl and reserve.
- If you are adding any ingredients that need to cook for more than a minute or so (mushrooms, for example, could use about 5 minutes to simmer), add them now. When they are nearly done, add the diced tofu and any other ingredients, such as baby spinach, that need just a few seconds of cooking.
- Into the small bowl of reserved broth, whisk in the miso paste with a fork until there are no lumps. Pour the miso mixture into the pot and stir to combine. Remove from the heat after just a few seconds—miso does not like to be overcooked. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 61Total Fat: 2.5gCarbohydrates: 5.4gFiber: 1.1gProtein: 4.8g