Miso Soup

January 6th, 2008

Miso Soup

I’ve always loved clear broths, whether they be a noodle soup, a vegetable broth or even chicken stock just as it is. I find them incredibly soothing and full of flavour. After the richness of the Christmas food I’m, like most of us, craving lighter, fresher food with a cleaner taste and less fat content, and an oriental broth is just the thing. I was on the lookout for a base for such a soup in the supermarket yesterday and picked up a box of instant miso soup sachets. I normally avoid anything ‘instant’ in the supermarkets but these looked pretty good – no artificial additives and a produce of Japan.

I knew very little about miso (pronounced mee-so) soup, so did some research. I found that it’s eaten daily by most Japanese people, being an important part of most meals; it’s even eaten for breakfast. The base of the soup is miso paste, made from soy beans, and a stock called dashi. The ingredients added to the base are chosen according to the season and provide contrasting colour, texture and flavour. Common ingredients used include tofu, shitake mushrooms and seaweed.

For my soup I used pak choi, spring onions and oyster mushrooms. I made up two of the sachets with hot water in a saucepan and then added a small handful of the mushrooms, a few pak choi leaves roughly torn and a spring onion, snipped with scissors diagonally. I simmered them for just a few minutes (the vegetables shouldn’t be soft) and then garnished the soup with more spring onion. EDIT: Thanks to the people who left comments telling me you shouldn’t boil or simmer miso soup, noted for my next one!

This soup has a deep flavour, quite earthy, and the spring onions lift it nicely. Not only is it delicious and healthy, but it’s so quick and simple; I’ll definately be buying more of those sachets for my store cupboard.

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