Miso soup is a marvel.
I cannot even tell you how often miso soup is dinner at my house, and in how many varieties! I have demonstrated it hundreds of times at my cooking demos, often for groups as large as a hundred guests of more!
Quick is not even the word – by the time it comes to a boil, it’s done, a whole pot full. It’s also an incredibly nutritious, versatile, low-calorie treat. I am giving you here a basic miso soup recipe, but I am including as many variations as I can think of, and let you play with it and get another exciting take on the classic each time. It will all be ready as soon as it comes to a boil. The miso, shiitake, ginger, toasted sesame oil, bottled hot sauce and scallions are a constant with all variations.
The Chinese-Restaurant lackluster miso soup variety:
Here I’m only talking about restaurants offering institutional fare. Please don’t get me started on this. Salted dishwater masquerading as broth. Sorry about being so tough here. The homemade version is ridiculously simple, and once you master it (that will take about 5 minutes!), you may never go back to its commercial counterpart, which will go totally unlamented!
But suppose you do order it, once in a blue moon, as I do, then get smart and order it to your specifications: First, make certain it has no MSG, and save yourself a giant MSG headache too! Next request is, no canned veggies please! Banish the canned baby corn, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts: who needs it? Instead spread the fresh good stuff thick: fresh mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, snow peas, fresh dark green leaves and so on.
My own festive miso soup additions:
Would you believe, not only do I serve it to guests on Yom Tov, but I prep all my veggies in advance, then whip it up sometime between Netilat Yadaiim and first course: a few minutes! Then I throw into the basic soup some of my favorite additions. I have included all of them, scroll down, you’ll be happy!
Do you love Asian Soups as much as I do?
Check out my Quick Pho Recipe as well! Pho is another marvel you can endlessly customize according to what you find on marketing day and what your pantry has to offer.
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps only, sliced thin
- 1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu, cuts in small cubes
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves only, cut into ribbons
- 1 cup miso paste, dark for a stronger taste, white for a milder taste
- 2-inch piece ginger, grated
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon bottled hot sauce, or more to taste
- 4 scallions, sliced very thin
Bring all but last ingredient to a boil, then turn off the flame. Stir in the scallions. Serve hot. Makes a dozen ample servings.
Miso Soup Variations:
- Choose from: Sliced celery, sliced zucchini, sliced carrots, frozen corn kernels, sliced nappa cabbage, sliced bok choy, etc… Nothing canned whatsoever please! Proceed as above.
- Throw in a nice handful or two of rice, ramen or soba noodles, left whole (get ready for slurping) or cut into smaller pieces (no slurping). Proceed as above.
- Throw in a handful of seaweed: Crumbled nori, wakame, arame, hijiki. Proceed as above.
- Include 3-4 cups either cubed chicken breasts or fish (or a good squeeze of anchovy paste; in this case reduce the amount of miso): they will cook in the same time the soup does. Proceed as above.
- Add bright green vegetables such as snow peas, spinach leaves, watercress leaves, asparagus sections, broccoli spears or string beans all the way at the end of cooking, after the soup comes to a boil, so that they retain their bright color.
- Throw in a 15 ounce can of coconut milk for a richer soup. Proceed as above.
- Throw in a cup of sake for added punch. Proceed as above.
- Throw in kale ribs and kelp at the beginning of coking, and discard the ribs at the end of cooking.
- Throw in chopped cilantro and lemongrass