Miso soup is an almost daily staple of a Japanese diet. In the West many soups start with a base of chicken broth. In Japanese most soups start with dashi. The dried soup base, Hon Dashi, is sold in most supermarkets (at least on the West Cost). I have never been sure how much to use so I think I have been using too little, because if there are instructions on the bottle they are all in Japanese. One of the websites I was on while researching this meal was recommending 1 tsp. of Hon Dashi per cup of water. Since the bottles only contain about three tablespoons, it would take almost a whole bottle to make a soup for the family. See Karl’s Yosenabe for instructions on making it from scratch.
In its simplest form, miso soup is just dashi and miso, a fermented paste usually made from soybeans. What other ingredients you add depend on your personal tastes and what’s in the kitchen. Three or four additions with contrasting colors and textures would be ideal.
Karl’s Miso Soup
8 cups water
2 (6-inch) pieces kombu
1 1/2 oz. dried, shaved bonito
6 cups dashi
2 oz. enoki mushrooms (½ package)
7 oz. shirataki, white (yam noodles)
1 Tbs. wakame
2 Tbs. white miso
¼ lb. pressed tofu
3 Green onions
1. Preparing the Dashi: Add warm water and kombu to a stock pot and let it steep for 30 minutes.
2. Bring the stockpot to a boil over medium heat. Remove the kombu and add the bonito and stir it once to mix in. As soon as the liquid boils again, decrease the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove any scum that appears on the surface.
3. Turn off the heat and let the liquid steep for 15 minutes. Strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Don’t squeeze the bonito flakes because it would make the dashi cloudy. Discard the bonito flakes after use.
Preparing the soup:
4. While the dashi is steeping, prep all of the other ingredients as follows and set aside. Drain and rinse the shirataki noodles. Trim the roots of the enoki mushrooms and separate into small bunches. Reconstitute the wakame in warm water, drain and chop fine. Slice the tofu into ½ inch dice. Cut the green onions on the bias.
5. Distribute the tofu and green onions evenly between the individual soup bowls.
6. 20 minutes before serving, add the dashi, shirataki, and wakame to your soup pot and bring to it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Place the miso in a small bowl and add some of the soup broth. Mix until the miso is no longer lumpy. Add the miso to the soup and stir in. Cook for another 3 minutes, but do not boil.
8. Use chopsticks to evenly distribute the mushrooms and noodles in the bowls.
9. Ladle the rest of the soup into the bowls.
10. When you first pour the soup into the bowls it will be uniformly cloudy. You may serve it this way, but if you let them sit for a few minutes the miso will settle to the bottom of the bowl. When you carefully bring the bowls to the table, there will be a clear broth on top and the other ingredients peeking out of a cloud of miso. It does not change the flavor of the soup, but it makes for a nice presentation.