Not only does miso paste give everything an umami blast, but using it to make miso soup is so easy — it’s virtually impossible to mess up.
What I love most about miso soup, aside from its salty and rich flavor, is it’s wonderful versatility – you can make it with noodles, mushrooms, seafood, tofu, you name it. There are no hard and fast rules to making miso soup.
Miso soup is something I always order when I go out for sushi. As a cultural melting pot, Vancouver must have as many sushi places Germany does bakeries! So I’ve had my fair share. Sadly, decent quality sushi costs an arm and a leg in Hamburg – just imagine, 9€ for a California roll — with imitation crab at that!
So needless to say, sushi isn’t a weekly occurrence. And since many of my Japanese favorites are pretty doable at home, with a little know how and the right ingredients, I can enjoy then as often as I like!
Traditionally miso soup is made from a combination of miso paste and dashi. Dashi is soup stock and a vital ingredient for almost all Japanese cooking. Like miso paste, it also imparts umami – the fifth taste 1) sweet 2) sour 3) salt 4) bitter, and 5) umami – think parmesan cheese, it’s got the umami thing going on too. Warning: yumminess like this is a little bit addictive!
Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy
1 tablespoon sesame oil
150 g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cups vegetable broth (alternatively use dashi, (I recommend this!) a Japanese soup stock powder, available at Asian food markets) (1 litre)
5 green onions , finely chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 tablespoons miso paste (fermented soybean paste, available at Asian food markets)
4 or more heads baby bok choy, trimmed, cut into bite-size pieces (ca. 300 g)
handful cilantro leaves, as garnish
1. Heat oil in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, ginger and toss to coat. Cook, stirring once or twice, until mushrooms are slightly browned on edges, about 5 minutes.
2. Add vegetable broth (or 1 package instant dashi, if using) and stir in the green onions, and carrots. Bring to a soft boil and then reduce heat to low, simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the miso paste, then add the bok choy and cook until bok choy is wilted; another 2-3 minutes.
3. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If fresh shiitake mushrooms aren’t available, you can used dried; just soak them for at least 30 minutes until soft enough to slice. And if bok choy isn’t your thing, any greens can be substituted here: spinach, Swiss chard, kale, whatever you like. Enjoy!