This delicious soup is extremely easy to make and consists of a basic stock which is called ‘dashi’. The ‘dashi’ or stock is mixed with miso paste and several ingredients of choice to prepare this hearty soup.
The main ingredient in miso soup, which gives it its characteristic flavor, is miso paste. Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans. Miso paste is a high protein vegetarian food item which is not only used in the preparation of miso soup but also as a flavoring agent in traditional Japanese sauce. Some people also use miso as a kind of spread.
Making miso paste, which is the main ingredient in miso soup, is quite a tedious process. To prepare miso paste from scratch can take anywhere between one to three years. Once miso paste is made, it can be stored in airtight containers for several months inside the refrigerator.
The ‘dashi’ or basic stock which is used in the preparation of miso soup is made from kombu or dried kelp, niboshi or dried baby sardines, hoshi-shiitake or dried shiitake mushrooms and katsuobushi which is the smoked or dried shavings of skipjack tuna.
A variety of solid ingredients are used in miso soup. These ingredients reflect the various seasons. Some of the common solid ingredients which are used in miso soup are onion, potatoes, shrimp, wakame seaweed, sliced daikon and fish. Some people add pork to miso soup. If pork is added to miso soup, it is known as ‘tonjiru’.
Miso soup is traditionally served in lacquer bowls. These bowls come with their own lids to keep the soup hot. A pair of chopsticks is placed beside the lacquer bowl.
For The Dashi
Water – 3 cups
Bonito Flakes or katsuobushi – 15gms
Square piece kombu (kelp) of approximately 10 Cm – 1
For The Miso Soup
Miso Paste 2-3tbsp
Tofu block cut into 1.5 cm cubes – ½ block
Dried Wakame – 5gms
To Make Dashi Stock
1. After wiping the kombu dry with a clean cloth, snip of a couple of bits of kombu and put it inside a saucepan containing three cups of water.
2. Allow the water containing the kombu bits to boil slowly over a medium heat. Once the water boils, remove the saucepan from the heat source.
3. Add one ladleful of cold water into the saucepan containing the hot water and kombu bits. Now return the saucepan back to the heat source.
4. Boil the water once again. Once the water comes to boil, remove the saucepan from the stove and add the bonito flakes.
5. Strain the dashi through a very fine sieve but take care not to squeezer the bonito flakes.
To Make Miso Soup
1. Take a bowl of cold water and soak the wakame in it for about ten minutes. Drain the excess water and cut wakame into small bite sized pieces.
2. Heat the prepared dashi stock in a saucepan. Dissolve two tablespoons of miso paste in some reserve dashi stock. Once the miso paste dissolves completely, pour the reserve stock into the saucepan. Ensure that the dashi does not boil after the miso paste is added.
3. Now add tofu, wakame and sliced daikon pieces into the heated stock and continue heating the stock over a gentle flame.
4. Serve in traditional lacquer bowls with some finely chopped shallots.
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