It only makes sense to write about miso soup after writing an article about dashi. (After all, that’s one out of the two main ingredients of the soup!) This soup is a staple in the Japanese diet, with an estimated 75% of the Japanese population drinking it at least once a day. It’s a delicious source of protein and probiotics, so it’s no wonder that it’s so popular!
Miso has been a part of Japanese cuisine for over 1300 years, but its application has changed considerably in that time. When miso first arrived in Japan during the 7th century, it was used most often as a gourmet spread in aristocratic households, or sometimes as currency among elite families. Miso soup first rose to prominence in the Kamakura period (1185-1333 AD), when Buddhist monks began using suribachi mortars to prepare the paste. It caught on quickly with samurai, who used the paste as a simple way to prepare soup—even on the battlefield!
This soup is one of the easiest ones to make from scratch. You can cold-brew the shiitake dashi overnight for a hands-off method, or you can simmer it to bring out the flavor in less than 20 minutes. Either way, this vegan-friendly dish will make a delicious addition to your meal!
Shiitake Miso Soup
4 cups water
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 sheet kombu
1/4 cup yellow miso paste
1/2 cup wakame seaweed, soaked
1/2 lb tofu, diced
In a large bowl, pour the water over the mushrooms and kombu, and place a weight directly on top to make sure the mushrooms stay submerged. Place in the refrigerator, and soak overnight. (Alternately, combine the ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer for 15 minutes.) Remove the kombu and mushrooms from the broth, squeezing the mushrooms gently to drain excess water. Slice the mushrooms thin, and set aside.
Pour the broth into a large saucepan, and place over medium-low heat; cover and bring to a simmer. Once hot, ladle about 1 cup of the broth into a bowl with the miso paste, then whisk together until the miso is dissolved. Add the mushrooms, wakame, and tofu to the broth, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the miso mixture back into the pot, then cook for 1 more minute. Serve immediately.
Serves up to 4.