Updated: Apr 25, 2021
As soon as you sit down in any Japanese restaurant, a bowl of miso soup magically appears. Everyone loves this soup, delicately flavored, 1-2 two small pieces of tofu and a piece of seaweed if you are lucky. It is magical and sets the tone for the rest of dinner. It is also super simple to make.
I wanted to delve into what makes a really good miso soup and after some reading, and trial and error, 1 came across this recipe. This soup is outstanding, light, the flavor of umami from the kombu stock and seaweed, and, of course, some vegetables. This soup will change how you view miso soup forever.
Let's also discuss red dulse. It is essentially a type of seaweed that is harvested and dried, usually with a slight salted flavor that come naturally from the sea. I find it hard to get true red dulse, but most Japanese stores carry other dried dulse in colors, green and white, or a mixed bag. These are good substitutes.
Also, what is kombu? It again is dried seaweed, the best variety being harvested in Hokkaido, Japan. This seaweed comes in small squares that are hard and coated in sea salt. It is responsible for the wonderful flavor of the sea in this soup. Available in any Japanese store or on Amazon.
This soup book from Deborah Madison is absolutely amazing. Now that it is fall, you will see quite a few soup recipes appear on this blog, a lot of them from this book.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
1-2 strips of kombu, depending on size
1/2 cup bonito flakes (Can omit for a vegan and vegetarian version)
8 cups water
4-5 thin slices of ginger
1/2 cup white miso, I have also used red or yellow miso
1 cup firm tofu, cut into tiny cubes
12-14 pieces of red dulse or other dried seaweed
1 carrot, cut into tiny pieces
1 cup frozen edamame
A few drops sesame oil
2 scallions cut into thin circles
Add the kombu and water to a soup pot and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 1 minute, be precise, and turn off the heat. Add the bonito flakes and sit for 4 minutes. Remove the kombu and strain the dashi stock.
Add the dulse/seaweed to a small bowl and soak in water for 10-15 minutes. They will unfurl and turn soft.
In a pot, you can use the same one from above after quick rinse with water, heat the dashi with the ginger, carrots, edamame, and tofu to a gentle simmer. Mash the miso in a bowl with the warm dash to make a thick cream and get all the bits smooth. Add this to the soup and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Add the dulse when ready, including the liquid they were soaked in. Taste the soup and adjust salt and the flavor of miso. Add more miso for a stronger flavor.
Note: Miso is a live culture (like yogurt) and all the benefits of miso are lost if it is boiled. Keep the heat low and gentle. Also, Miso and kombu have a lot of salt in them. You most probably will not need to add any salt to this dish.
To serve, stir the soup well, the goodness of miso tends to settle. Ladle the soup into bowls making sure to get some of the carrots, tofu, and edamame. Top with a few scallions and a drop or two of sesame oil.