When I want to serve elegant and simple, I serve miso soup. If you've eaten in a Japanese restaurant, miso soup is the broth that is served shortly after you've placed an order, usually. It looks exotic, even mysterious, and that umami (savory) taste is satisfyingly salty and slightly meaty. Characteristically, tofu and/or scallions are added to miso for bite and as garnish, but I have lately been enamored with spring onions. I've used spring onion in another recipe so far this season.
Spring onions have more zest than scallions, and I love the the blush of the purple spring onions.
Dried Kombu seaweed, edible kelp, is a major ingredient in the broth (besides the miso). It is used to make the stock for miso soup and for other soups and broths.
Kombu will rehydrate in hot water.
These are bonito flakes. The first few times I made miso soup, I didn't know about this product, which consists of steamed, flaked and dried bonito fish. I couldn't exactly replicate the Japanese-restaurant-style miso soup. Since I've discovered these intensely fishy flakes (they should be used sparingly), my miso soup has that characteristic cloudiness and delicious fish flavor.
The red miso, which I used in my "Miso Shrimp and Grits" recipe a while back, is made from fermented soybeans. Red miso is aged at least a year and is a deep, reddish-brown paste that gives this miso soup its color and salty flavor (the "Miso Master" brand--at 450 mg of sodium per teaspoon--is the least salty miso paste I've found. It's organic as well.) As a pescetarian, I appreciate not only the flavor in miso soup, but I also benefit from the trace minerals (zinc, copper, and manganese), amino acids, and B-vitamins.* You can find the ingredients for miso soup in the international food section of major supermarkets or in specialty grocery stores.
Red Miso Soup with Spring Onion (Makes 6 Servings)
5 cups spring water
2 5-inch pieces of dried Kombu
1/2 cup bonito fish flakes
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of red miso
1 spring onion, sliced thinly, including green tops
- Place water in soup pot and bring to a boil.
- Add Kombu and allow to rehydrate while the water is boiling.
- When Kombu has rehydrated and is the consistency of cooked lasagna, take the pot off of the heat. Add the fish flakes and stir.
- Add the miso paste and stir to dissolve the paste.
- Add the sliced spring onion.
- Serve hot
*Reference for nutritional information:
R, Sarah. "Miso Soup Nutrition." LiveStrong.com. Demand Media, Inc., 31/10/2010. Web. 17 Apr 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/292991-miso-soup-nutrition/>.