Over the past year or so I've fallen into the habit of posting on Tuesdays and Fridays. I'm not entirely sure why, it just seemed to work out that way without too much thought. Sadly, that meant that I fell out of the habit of posting a Meatless Monday dish here, even though we have been incorporating more meatless meals into our weekly menus. Of course, I could just as easily post a Meatless Wednesday dish, but I do like the idea of dedicating a day each week to not just eat meatless, but to really recognize that fact, and if we're going to do that then I think Meatless Monday has a much nicer ring to it. Don't you?
So here we are again joining the Meatless Monday bandwagon with a dish that I'd never cooked before now, but decided to last week when my wife was a touch under the weather and craving a hot, savory bowl of healthy eating. This dish also provided an opportunity to find another soy based winner for our on-again, off-again pescatarian, Peyton. Sadly, while her Mom and I both loved this soup (we've always been fans), Peyton struggled with the texture of the tofu in the bowl, she much prefers it pan seared so that it develops a bit of a crunchy skin. Turns out squishy food is not really her thing.
The key to a great miso soup lies not in the cubes of tofu bobbing in the mix, but with the quality of the "dashi", the seafood broth that envelopes the little nuggets. Dashi is made by infusing either a vegetable or chicken stock (or just plain water) with "kombu" a dried kelp seaweed, and "bonito flakes", steamed, dried and shaved bonito fish (kind of like a mackerel). The tofu, kombu and bonito (as well as the miso paste) can all be found at any Asian market, I bought mine at my local Whole Foods.
Once you've made your dashi, making the soup requires no more effort than whisking some miso paste in, tossing in some cubed firm tofu, and garnishing the steaming pot with some freshly sliced scallions. Some people add greens, sliced shiitake mushrooms, or even some shrimp to fill-out the bowl a bit, but traditionally the soup is made just with the dashi, miso, tofu and scallions.
Enjoy it in good health.
Cheers – Steve
- 10 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or plain water)
- one 4-inch square of dried kombu
- 3/4 cup of shaved bonito flakes
- one 16 ounce brick of firm or super firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1/2 cup "white" miso paste
- 5-6 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
- Place the kombu and 10 cups of stock or water in a large saucepan, and heat until it just comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and remove and discard the kombu. Add the bonito flakes to the pot and let steep 7-10 minutes. Pour through a fine meshed strainer into a clean pot and proceed with making your soup.
- Heat the dashi just to simmering. Place the miso in a medium sized bowl, then ladle about 2 cups of the hot dashi into the bowl with the miso and whisk to incorporate. Pour the liquefied miso into the pot of dashi, toss in the cubed tofu and about 3/4 of the sliced scallions. Gently heat to warm the tofu.
- Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, top with the remaining sliced scallions and serve.