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I’ve always loved miso soup. Ever since I can remember I’ve ordered this warm, savory yet simple soup in Japanese restaurants. In 1989 our family took a trip to Fiji, and lo and behold miso soup appeared on the breakfast buffet! That was a first for me to see…but I’ve come to love miso soup for breakfast. In 1998 I visited Japan and had miso soup every single day! There is something about it that always warms my insides.
I recently took a cooking class taught by Lovely Lanvin (aka Shirley) where she taught us how to make Okonomiyaki or Osaka-style Japanese Savory Pancakes. Shirley brought miso soup for all of us to sip while we watched her make the pancakes, and she kindly told us approximately how it was done.
What follows is my version – probably not the quantities Shirley would use but it suits my taste buds. By the way, many cooks both here and in Japan use dried, pre-made soup stock – much like bouillon. I think making the Dashi, or Japanese soup stock, from scratch creates a much deeper, unusual flavor.
My Miso Soup
Makes 6 servings
- 6 cups water
- 1 5-6 inch piece kombu (dried kelp)
- 2 cups Katsuiobushi dried bonito flakes
- Wakame (dried seaweed)-not too much-it really expands
- 1/2 cup cubed silken tofu
- 3-4 Tbsp miso paste (red or white)
- 2 cups Baby spinach (optional)
- 1 cup Shitake mushrooms (optional)
To make the Dashi, combine the kombu and water in a soup pot and cook on medium low heat. The water should approach a boil after about 20 minutes (lower the heat if it is heating up too quickly). Once boiling, immediately turn off the heat and remove the kombu. Add the dried bonito flakes. Wait 20-30 minutes until the dried bonito drops to the bottom of the pan. Strain the broth through an ultra fine-mesh strainer (cheesecloth or I used my Chinoise). Let drain for a couple of minutes. Don’t press on the bonito flakes or it gets cloudy and bitter.
Add a small handful of wakame (dried seaweed) and cubes of silken tofu to the strained dashi and heat on low for three minutes along with 3-4 Tbsp of miso paste. The miso I used combined red and white miso, or you can use half red and half white miso paste if you have it.
This did not come from Shirley, but I like to drop in a couple handfuls of baby spinach – this isn’t traditional but I like it. I’ve even been known to add some sliced Shitake mushrooms.
Ladle into a bowl… This will warm the cockles of your heart!
PS: I took the pictures of the ingredients Shirley used from Uwajamaya above in case you wonder or have a choice of brands