How do you know you’re inspired by a certain ingredient? You think about it first thing in the morning and you want it for breakfast. Miso soup is not my typical breakfast food and I have not made it for breakfast before. This week at IHCC, inspiration is the theme for our cooking.
In my recent trip to Japan, I started following the lead and advice of fellow travelers. (There were more physicians in our group than any other professions. Disease, wellness and health were very much in the forefront of our minds.) I was skeptical in the beginning to have miso soup for breakfast. Then it became a habit; I had miso soup for breakfast everyday for over a week. I missed it when I got home. So for the very first time, I made miso soup, and yes, for breakfast.
|light and dark miso paste and bonito|
This is what Heidi Swanson said about her miso soup recipe: “This is the miso soup recipe that nourished me back from illness. Remember when I was sick last month? Well, after a couple days of nothing but crackers and popsicles, it was miso soup that eventually brought me back to the land of functioning human beings. The first few pots were simply a couple tablespoons of light, mild white miso paste whisked into water with a pinch of salt – but I began to build from there. A handful of tiny tofu cubes went into the next pot, and noodles into the pot after that. Little by little I started to feel like myself again.”
I built the miso base with some bonito flakes to make a dashi, or fish stock. Put a few flakes of bonito, which lends umami to the finished soup, in a pot of water and boil for about five minutes. Strain and add two tablespoons of light miso paste in the stock. Since I wanted my breakfast to be gluten free, I skipped the noodles. I skipped the salt as well. Put in small cubes of tofu, thin slices of mushroom and green onions in the boiling miso soup. In no time the soup was ready. Then sprinkled on top black sesame seeds and nori seaweed to serve. The warm miso soup is light and very nourishing, for mind and body, like spa food. Minimalist but on point. Inspiration met with fulfillment.
To make a more substantial miso soup for dinner, anything goes. You can almost add anything to it: meat or seafood. Chicken or clams. The miso soup can be used as the stock for any ramen and udon noodle dish. To keep it gluten free and vegetarian, I prefer to add green vegetables: baby bok choy, spinach or watercress. A dash of red pepper flakes would do the trick, if you want some heat.