The Japanese Miso Soup (misoshiru 味噌汁) is my favourite… breakfast. It has all the possible breakfast advantages (although it can be served at any meal!). A perfect morning meal for cold days and, in my case, hangover days too! It is also one of my comforting dishes. To sum up, miso soup is quick, low-fat, low-calorie, nourishing, very healthy, versatile… but first of all deliciously addictive.
To make a quick and simplified miso soup you need only three ingredients: miso (fermented soybean) paste, dried fish (bonito) flakes and dried wakame seaweed, all sold in Japanese groceries and all keeping for ages! This time I used a very light mild-tasting miso paste, but any other miso type can be used. Dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi, necessary to make a simplified stock, or dashi (出し), the first step in the preparation of a miso soup) are sold in big bags and keep in an airtight container for years. (See here how to make also quite quickly a REAL primary dashi, not a simplified shortcut). As for wakame seaweed, it can be bought in whole strips or already cut into tiny pieces which, in contact with water will expand into bite-sized pieces.
The rest of the ingredients depend only on your imagination and preference (hard-boiled egg, cooked vegetables, potatoes, shrimps, cooked leftover meat… anything can be added), but miso soup with tofu is a kind of basic version.
If you still have some instant miso soup or dashi stock bags, throw them away (I did after I had made my first miso from the scratch)! Dashi can sometimes be useful as a base for simmered dishes and sauces, but the instant miso soup is not even half as good as the soup made from the scratch, the whole process taking only 10 minutes! There is no excuse for the shortcuts of the shortcut (the stock version I describe here is already a simplified one).
I have been making this recipe for ages and took it (maybe with slight modifications) from Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking by Harumi Hurikara. Easy and clearly explained recipes with Harumi’s very warm and personal comments and hints are a perfect introduction to the basic Japanese home cooking.
Preparation: 10-15 minutes
Ingredients (serves 1):
250 ml water
1 tablespoon dried bonito flakes
1 teaspoon cut and dried seaweed (or a 5 cm whole dried wakame seaweed piece)
1 tablespoon miso paste (or more, it depends on the saltiness of the miso)
100 g silken (soft) tofu
Put the seaweed in a glass of cold water to let it expand and soften. (It still amazes me how quickly the tiny teaspoon is transformed into half a glass of beautiful green leaves!)
In the meantime pour the water and dried bonito flakes into a small pan. Bring to a boil and let it boil two minutes.
Put aside. The fish flakes will go into the bottom very quickly, and then you can strain the liquid.
Throw the flakes away or boil them once more with another batch of water to obtain a milder dashi stock for the following day. (It should be stored in the fridge).
Pour back the stock into the pan (without the bonito flakes of course!). Add the miso paste and the drained seaweed (cut into bite-sized pieces if you are using a whole piece). Warm the soup for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it’s hot, but don’t let it boil! Cut the tofu into square pieces and put into the pan for 30 seconds.
Serve in a bowl.