Miso soup is a staple of the Japanese table eaten with meals from breakfast to dinner. Depending on the region of Japan you're in, you might find yourself starring down at a steaming bowl of white miso soup with okra and taro, or a heady bowl of dark miso soup with deep fried tofu, bamboo and wild mushrooms. Growing up in California, I always looked forward to Saturday morning breakfasts because it meant my mom was making Japanese food for the two of us and western food for my sister and step-father.
I vary the ingredients based on what I have in my fridge, but you can put just about any veggie into this soup from carrots, to potatoes, to cabbage to bean sprouts.
- For the dashi, simmer the ingredients over low heat for 10-15 minutes. If you have a teaball, or disposable tea bags, I like putting the niboshi in one so they're easier to retrieve when the stock is done. Make sure it does not boil as this could make the soup cloudy or bitter. Taste it... it should be deep, slightly smoky and full of umami. Now just fetch all the floaties and your done with the dashi (you might need to run it through a strainer)
- To make the soup, put the miso and mirin in a bowl and add some dashi to help disolve the miso. Put this mixture into the pot and bring it to a light simmer. Make sure it does not boil as this will make the miso separate.
- Add the Aburaage (pronounced Abura-a-ge the middle "a" sounds like the "a" in "amish" and the "ge" sounds like the "ga" in "Gary") and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle the scallions in at the very end just before you serve the soup.
- Once it's in the bowls you can add some Mitsuba. It's a bit hard to find (you'll have to go to a japanese grocery store), and there isn't really a suitable replacement, but it adds a wonderful cedar aroma to the soup that carries you away to a misty evergreen forest.