Saturday 10 January 2009

Miso Soup for after the feasting!

Picture the scene. It was the weekend after New Year’s Eve and we were due back at work on Monday. Zinc asleep in the beanbag. E seeking out neofolk music on the web. The weekend paper spread over the couch. I was wasting time on the giant holiday crossword. Time for a bowl of miso soup leftover from the previous night.

Yes Miso Soup will complete that lazy scene at the end of the holidays. It is what Nigella calls temple food. Some would call it detox or diet food. For me, it is just the soup to turn to when I have had a glut of rich food and need some healthy cleansing soup full of vegetables and noodles. It is a refreshing soup with a salty sour taste. And it leaves lots of room for leftover chocolate cake!

As I sat down to write about it I wondered where my version of miso soup had come from. Many of the miso soups I see are a lot plainer with less vegetables. I can’t remember if I learnt it from someone, found it in a cookbook or just needed more vegetables in it. Wherever it came from, I have made it too many times for it to resemble anything but my own creation. It is not at all traditional but I love it.

Given that this is my idiosyncratic recipe based on what I made last weekend, I was tempted to include a can of Stag Chilli in the ingredients list and write into the method a reminder to tell E to get his own dinner. I love sharing meals but it does have its limitations. I haven’t made this soup for some time because I get discouraging sounds from E who doesn’t understand its charms. However, with enough leftovers from feasting I could let him fend for himself while I enjoyed one of my favourite soups.

I was particularly pleased to be able to make this with minimal purchases from the shops. E went out the previous day and bought me some broccoli while I was having a blitz on cleaning. Everything else was in my kitchen. I like to keep vegetarian dashi stock powder, dried shitake mushrooms and dried seaweed in the cupboard especially for this soup. I have two sorts of miso – dark and white – because I find the dark too overpowering by itself.

I like my miso soup full of tofu, noodles and vegetables, depending on what is about in the kitchen. This is a soup that is different every time I make it, so the below recipe is just a snapshot in time. A tin of mixed Chinese vegetables is helpful but I don’t always use this. Any other quick cooking vegetables – snow peas, sprouts, asparagus, capsicum, corn, spinach, spring onion or even pumpkin – might find their way into such a soup. Ginger and chilli can also be added. Apologies that the recipe is a little vague but I didn’t intend to post it and took little notice of what I was doing. But when I sat down to eat it, I thought it so good that I wanted to share it.

I am sending this soup to Ilva at Lucillian Delights for the Heart of the Matter blog event. It an event that I have always enjoyed because it encourages heart healthy eating but I haven’t managed to send many entries to lately. However with this month’s theme being Slimmer Recipes, I thought this soup would be just right.

Miso soup with tofu, noodles and vegetables
Serves 2-3

½ x 10g packet kombu-shitake dashi powder
1 small handful dried shitake mushrooms, broken up
1 small handful dried arame (seaweed)
1 carrot, chopped into matchsticks
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
125g firm tofu, diced
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 generous tbsp dark miso (such as hatcho)
1 generous tbsp white miso
200g packet ready-cooked udon noodles
2 button mushrooms, sliced
400g tin of mixed Chinese vegetables (bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, baby corn and water chestnuts)

Place dashi powder, dried mushrooms, arame, carrot, garlic and tofu in a large saucepan. Cover with water, stir and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes (depending on what else you are doing and how well you like your carrot cooked). Add broccoli and simmer another 2-3 minutes. While the soup is simmering take a ladle of water out of the saucepan and place in a small bowl. Stir in dark and white miso til well combined and the return to saucepan. Add noodles, mushrooms and Chinese vegetables. Check water level – you may need to add some more, depending on preference. Simmer 1-2 minutes to heat through. Ladle into deep bowls to serve.

On the stereo:
Mysteria Mithrae: Various Artists


  1. I love making miso soup from scratch. I find it's a good way to make use of odds and ends in the fridge, though my favourite combination of ingredients is onion, tofu, carrot and shiitake mushrooms. Sometimes instead of konbu stock, I use the water that the shiitake were soaking in so it has a mushroom base instead. Miso soup is the best!

  2. Great idea, I'm into detox or "Temple Food" mode more now after the Christmas and NY extravaganza. Still I had better stop making cakes! I love lots of tofu and vegetables in my soup too :)

  3. Wow! That's a hearty miso soup! I eat it often as well but usually just have it in a small bowl with some seaweed and tofu.

    Shall try out your version soon. :)

  4. That miso soup is truly bursting with veggies and other good things! I love the idea of turning it into a chunky veg soup. It looks incredibly appealing and sounds so tasty! And I'm sure I could use some after the cake and cookie excess of the holidays.

  5. I love your veggie-packed version of miso soup! I can't wait to try your recipe - it sounds hearty and light and refreshing all at the same time!

  6. That is an inspiring soup and although I didn't overdo it at Christmas or New Year, I do feel a little flabby after no salsa or yoga classes for 3 weeks, so maybe I do need some temple food!

  7. thanks Lisa - I agree miso soup is the best - and so flexible for using up whatever is needed or takes your fancy!

    thanks Lorraine - with a soup like this I don't think you need to cu out cake altogether - after all yours are so lovely! (but I am not a good person to advise on detox)

    Thanks Wendy - hope you enjoy your miso soup with lots of vegies

    Thanks Ricki - it does seems like a breath of fresh air after holiday indulgences

    thanks Astra - it is all those things - hope you enjoy trying it!

    Thanks Holler - if I did yoga this is the sort of soup I would want to come home to afterwards! Am sure you will be back in the swing of things soon!

  8. Thank you so much! This is really one of the best miso soup versions I have seen!

  9. What a shame that crossword's not in the paper each week. Kept me entertained for hours (and hours).

    Beautiful miso. Love it full of tofu and noodles and veg, too. Just what's needed - and E, please, give it a go willingly!! Far yummier than Stag Chilli!! ;-)

  10. Thanks Ilva - I tend to agree but I am biased!

    Thanks Lucy - loved the giant crossword - I almost forgave the Age for making me suffer a few weeks without my samurai sudoku (and I don't understand the stag chilli thang but if it keeps E from whinging about miso soup he can have it!)

  11. That sounds like a delightful soup. I always like to find new versions of miso soup. I hope you can find the time to submit something to No Croutons Required this month.

  12. thanks Lisa - I will see how I go with NCR - hope I might get something to you!


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