With feathery blooms peaking out from their wintered bark, and allergens aloft in the cool air, spring is rapidly approaching. Perhaps this change of season is the culprit behind my chef's block the past week. Half of me isn't quite ready to let go of the robust, slow-cooked dishes of winter, yet the other half is lamenting the fact that the farmers markets aren't abound with the bounties of spring.
This rich, velvety soup is reminiscent of a New England clam chowder in its creaminess, yet it doesn't contain a drop of dairy. Its lush texture and earthy aroma come from the soy milk and miso broth, while big chunks of salmon belly add the fat that will have you convinced this soup is brimming with butter and cream.
Served with a bowl of rice, or a thick crusty baguette, this hearty blond stew will take the chill off even the coldest day. I really like the melt-in-your mouth tenderness and the extra oil that salmon belly lends to the soup, but if you want a lighter version, it would also work well with a less fatty cut of salmon; just be sure to adjust the cooking time.
Leftovers can either be reheated or turned into a porridge by adding some cooked rice to the soup and cooking until the rice is very soft.
- Put the bonito flakes in a disposible tea bag, or a double layer of cheese cloth and tie with twine. If you don't have either, you can steep it in the soy milk, but you will need to strain it out.
- Add the soymilk, bonito satchel and the kombu into a pot, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the kombu and satchel then add the carrots and turnips. Cover and maintain a gentle simmer until they are tender.
- Laddle some of the soymilk into a bowl and whisk in the miso and sugar to dissolve. Pour this mixture back into the soup and salt to taste. Add the salmon belly and cook for about 10-15 minutes; because it has a very high fat content, salmon belly benefits from the extra cooking time. If you are using regular salmon, you only need to cook it for a few minutes, otherwise it will get dry.
- Add the scallions and serve with rice or crusty bread.