Basic Miso Soup
by Hideo Dekura, Brigid Treloar, Ryuichi Yoshii, Authors of The Complete Book of Sushi
There are many different miso pastes available: some with smooth textures, some chunky, and with varying degrees of flavor and saltiness. Most miso pastes are interchangeable in recipes but quantities may need to be adjusted according to taste. As a general rule, the darker the miso the saltier the taste, and the lighter the miso the sweeter the taste. Miso soup can be made with a combination of different miso pastes, so experiment with types and quantities. It is advisable to taste miso soup before adding all the miso paste so the taste and saltiness will suit you.
Makes 4 cups (1 qt/1 L) miso soup
4 cups (1 qt/1 L) number-2 dashi (how to make number-two dashi)
2 tablespoons (2 oz/60 g) miso paste
Bring dashi to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Put miso paste into a strainer. Hold or place strainer over boiling dashi. With back of a wooden spoon that fits well into strainer, rub miso so that you sieve it through strainer into boiling stock. Discard any grainy remainders in strainer. Stir soup as it simmers gently. Check for taste. Remove from heat and serve.
Miso should be made to taste. Adding more bonito flakes or instant dashi granules to the stock will create a stronger flavor.
Add almost any vegetable, meat or seafood to the soup, but be sparing with strongly flavored ingredients. The following are ideal: diced scallions (shallots/spring onions), diced tofu, wakame seaweed, daikon radish, corn, scallops, clams, fish, finely sliced shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, okra, pork, bamboo shoots and asparagus.
If ingredients need cooking, cook them separately and then add to finished soup. Ingredients such as tofu, enoki mushrooms, scallions (shallots/spring onions) and seaweed do not need cooking; just place them in the serving bowls, pour the hot soup over and serve.
Reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, a member of the Periplus Publishing Group.