We had a rare cold snap in Los Angeles recently. And by cold snap, I mean that temperatures dipped all the way down to the low 60s. IN MAY, YOU GUYS. #neverforget. Anyway…my husband (Mr. Viv) is not a fan of soup when the weather is warm, so the temporarily gloomy conditions gave me a chance to sneak in a soup night without having to wait another 6 months for “true” winter to return.
A couple months ago I learned how to make miso paste at a workshop given by chef Bob Dornberger at Machine Project. It was surprisingly easy (and fun!), so maybe I’ll write a separate post about that later. Making miso soup is also really simple, and you don’t even have to use homemade miso. You can totally use store-bought miso paste, and the end result will still be delicious! Read on for the details.
If you can, soak a sheet of kombu for 3-12 hours in cold water beforehand. Otherwise, bring the water and kombu to just under boiling and remove the kombu. (Apparently boiling it will make the broth bitter and/or slimy, ewww.) Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Add in the katsuobushi and bring to a boil. Simmer for a minute and let cool for 10 minutes. The katsuobushi will sink to the bottom of the pot.
Now would be a good time to cut some scallions and tofu into small pieces. You just need enough for garnish, but use as much as you like! Traditional miso soup also calls for wakame, but I didn’t have any, so I just left it out.
Strain the katsuobushi and reserve the dashi (broth) that remains. This is the base of your soup. Dissolve your miso paste in some of the warm broth before mixing it all together.
Reheat the soup up to almost boiling, and ladle over your tofu and scallions to serve.
(Adapted from Just One Cookbook.)
- 4 cups water
- 1 piece of kombu
- A handful or small packet of katsuobushi
- 4 tablespoons miso paste (white, yellow, mild, or “sweet”)
- A handful of diced tofu
- A handful of chopped scallions (green or “spring” onions)
- If possible, soak the kombu in the water at room temperature for several hours before heating to almost boiling.
- Let it cool for a few minutes, then remove the kombu. (Optional: reserve the kombu for niban dashi or furikake. See “Viv’s Notes” below.)
- Add the katsuobushi and bring the water up to a boil. Simmer for a minute, then cool for 10 minutes.
- If you haven’t prepped the tofu and scallions already, you can use this cooling time to chop them up and place a little of each in the bottom of 2 soup bowls.
- Strain the broth. (Optional: reserve the katsuobushi for niban dashi or furikake. See “Viv’s Notes” below.)
- Dissolve the miso in some of the warm broth before mixing it all together.
- Bring the soup back up to almost boiling before ladling into bowls.
I got my kombu at a Japanese market, and I ordered my katsuobushi from Amazon. Tofu and miso are pretty easy to find in most grocery stores.
You can use the kombu and katsuobushi one more time to make a milder broth called “niban dashi” (second broth). You can also dry them out and turn them into a delicious seasoning to sprinkle over rice called “furikake.”
My mom uses the French expression “au pif” a lot when people ask her for recipes. For most cooking, you can make adjustments “to taste,” or to suit your preferences. None of the measurements need to be exact for this recipe. For example, you can make the broth more flavorful or mild by using more or less kombu and katsuobushi. You could even leave out the katsuobushi entirely to make the dish completely vegetarian. You need approximately a tablespoon of miso per cup of broth, but you can customize the amount. I didn’t include wakame because I didn’t have any, and I just threw in small amounts of tofu and scallions without even measuring.
You can also customize this recipe by making additions. It would be delicious with clams or mushrooms, and pretty much any vegetable would be a great addition. You could probably even throw in some noodles of your choice to turn it into a meal.
Have fun personalizing this soup, and let us know how it goes, because WE LOVE THIS STUFF!