Tofu Miso Soup
Tofu miso soup is very soothing. My little munchkin caught a bad cold and I thought the simple, clear broth would help with her congestion. To make the soup, I started by preparing a kombu dashi (Japanese stock) with fresh ginger. To make the traditional non-vegetarian version, just add shavings of bonito flakes, or dried and fermented tuna.
Once the stock was ready, I seasoned it with white miso paste. No salt is necessary as the miso paste is already well seasoned. Miso soup can be served with cubed tofu and accompanied with other vegetables such as soybean sprouts, enoki and shiitake mushrooms or baby spinach.
Miso paste is a fermented rice and soybean combination. I chose white miso paste which is fermented for a few weeks as opposed to regular miso (several months). I find the flavor to be less salty with a subtle sweetness. Don't be frightened by the size of miso containers sold in markets. Miso paste stores well in the refrigerator and you can make other dishes with it such as Asian salad dressing, other soup broths and vegetarian gravy.
Yields: 6 servings3 (5-inch) pieces kombu
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 daikon radish
2-½ quarts water
2 teaspoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
3 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 (7-ounce) package enoki mushrooms, separated
6 tablespoons white miso paste
1 (18-ounce) package silken soft tofu
½ cup baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
1 tablespoon green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup soybean sprouts
Prepping the tofu: Drain the liquid from the package of the tofu. Slice the tofu in two, horizontally. Gently cut the tofu into 1-inch square cubes. Silken tofu is very delicate and easily breakable, so be very cautious and gentle. Set aside.
Prepping the ginger: Clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon. Cut the ginger into 1/16" thick slices, crosswise, using a sharp knife.
How to make vegetarian miso broth:
Trim the stem of the daikon and peel it. Place the daikon in a large pot.
Rinse the salt from the kombu under running water.
In the pot, add the sliced ginger, kombu and water. Bring to a full boil then lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
This step is optional but using a fine mesh strainer, filter the kombu stock, discarding the solids and impurities.
Return the liquid to the pot. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and add the white miso paste and green onions. Stir well so all the miso solids dissolve. Cook for an additional 2 minutes (don't over-cook the miso as it will turn too salty and become unpleasant). The vegetarian miso broth is ready.
In a frying pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the enoki mushrooms, spinach and soybean sprouts and cook for an additional minute. Transfer the mushrooms and vegetables to the hot broth. Finish with the cubed tofu. Warm the soup then turn off the heat.
Ladle the soup into 6 bowls.
Silken tofu can be found in grocery stores now but I prefer the one from the Korean or Japanese store. I find its texture to be creamier. Make sure you check for silken soft tofu and not firm on the package. I bought it at a local store, called Galleria. The address is 3531 El Camino Real, Sant Clara, CA 95061.
Enoki are very thin, long white mushrooms that are widely used in Asian cuisine. I also use them for making Vietnamese crêpes, banh xeo.
Daikon (củ cải trắng in Vietnamese) is an Asian radish that looks like a large white carrot. I use this root a lot for making broth. I usually discard the root when the broth is ready but you can serve it if you like the taste. It's also delicious when it's pickled with carrots and is commonly used in Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches.
Kombu is dried kelp (seaweed) that is used in Japanese cuisine to make stock. It gives a briny flavor to the miso broth.
You could also add bonito flakes to the broth if you like. They're dried, shaved fish. But I didn't because of the vegetarians in my house.
Miso paste is a great source of protein for a vegetarian diet. I buy white miso paste (shiro miso) at the Korean store. It's less salty than regular miso.
You can find all the ingredients listed above in Korean / Japanese markets.Published By: on March 17, 2010.