I’ve known miso for around twenty years. I got it in the health food store, which has a good japanese section. It is a thick paste, available from yellowish through mid reddish brown to deep dark brown, generally made from fermenting soybeans – sometimes other grains are added, like rice and barley. It has different tastes, from an earthy sweetness for the light ones to a deep saltiness for the darker ones. Miso can be used for marinades, sauces and soups. I use it for soup most of the time.
A true miso soup has dashi as a broth. I do sometimes use a vegetable or chicken stock cube as a starting point. You may even use water.
The dashi is made in around 5 minutes. You do need kombu, a sort of seaweed and bonito flakes, shavings of a type of tuna. You start with putting the kombu into cold water and heating it up until it boiles. After a couple of minutes you can take out the kombu and leave it for another time. I will most likely use for around four times. Then you add a tablespoon of the bonito flakes and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. After that you drain the broth. The dashi is ready.
The filling can be basically anything you have in the house. For this evening i chose the following:
- 2-3 cm of fresh ginger, grated
- two cloves of garlic, chopped
- a bit of freshly sliced red pepper
- 4 cm of large carrot, in 1 mm thick slices
- the remaining bits of bok choy
- tofu, sliced in medium blocks
- some noodles
The miso i mixed with a couple of tablespoons of the broth. It’s best not to cook the miso. It seems natural miso has many microorganisms which can be killed by overcooking.
When the carrot is cooked through, add the broth with all the veggies, tofu and noodles to the miso.
A half slice of nori i found in the cupboard was cut up in small pieces and thrown on top. A spring onion sliced was added as well. I finished with spreading some chili sauce on top.
This recipe is for an evening meal. There are many other options. A good place to start reading for more information about miso soup is the following article: Understand the Flavor Framework of Miso Soup.