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Japanese Miso Soup w/ Mushrooms and Tofu

By Heidi Allison

After the holidays, light Japanese-inspired soups are a welcome change to the heavy, calorie-laden meals of December. In this recipe, tofu and two different umami-rich, Asian mushrooms form the foundation of this dish, providing protein and substance. If you are craving noodles, try adding Japanese udon, ramen, or, even steamed kimchi dumplings to this soup.

As with any good soup, it’s the stock that makes or breaks the dish, and this soup is no exception. A basic Japanese dashi (soup stock), should have a fresh slightly salty taste, reminiscent of clean, briny saltwater. Dehydrated sea vegetable (dulse) or kombu (dried seaweed), toasted nori and dried shaved fish flakes (which melt into the stock), all work together to create the umami-rich flavor this dish requires, while the mild white miso paste rounds out its taste, and lightens up the color. The one caveat of miso soup is: Do not add it to boiling stock — it should be added at the end to the cooking process —after the soup is removed from the heat.

This dish is all about layering — adding different ingredients, at different stages of the cooking process. The tofu and mushrooms are added at the beginning so these ingredients can soften and absorb the flavor of the umami-rich stock, while the delicate bok choy is added near the end, to maintain its vibrant green color, and to ensure it does not overcook. The miso paste is added when the soup is taken off the heat, and the garnishes— slivered green onion tops, togarashi powder (a seven-ingredient Japanese seasoning blend for soups made from red chili pepper powder, seaweed, orange zest and sesame seeds), and toasted sesame seed oil, are added right before serving.

Basic Dashi (Japanese Soup Stock)

Ingredients for Dashi

Ingredients:


5 cups water (I recommend distilled)
½ cup organic Dulse (whole leaf sea vegetable; can substitute w/1, 4-inch square of kombu)

½ cup dried shaved fish flakes (katsuo -bushi)

1/3 cup shredded nori
3 sheets of toasted nori
2 teaspoon kosher flake sea salt
2 teaspoon low-sodium organic Tamari (non-wheat soy sauce)

Preparation:

Add 5 cups water and remainder of ingredients to a medium pot, and heat till boiling, then cook for one minute.

Add 5 cups water and remainder of ingredients to a medium pot, and heat till boiling, then cook for one minute. Turn off and cover. Let steep for 20 minutes and strain. Cover and set aside until soup assembly.

Soup Ingredients:

Soup Ingredients

1 cake organic firm tofu, rinsed and cut into ½ inch cubes
3 king trumpet mushrooms, ¼ inch slice
½ package beech mushrooms, roots removed and mushrooms separated (can sub with maitake or shiitake mushrooms)
2 baby bok choy, sliced into 1/3 inch slices
¼ cup white miso paste
2 green onion, thinly sliced, green part only
1 teaspoon Togarashi (Japanese chili pepper powder; optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil

Preparation:

Place dashi stock back into wok and bring up to a simmer, then add tofu and mushrooms. Heat until mushrooms are soft.

Place dashi stock back into wok and bring up to a simmer, then add tofu and mushrooms. Heat until mushrooms are soft.

Add sliced bok choy and heat till wilted and stem softens.

Turn off heat, add miso paste, then gently mix with a large whisk or fork until incorporated and soup takes on an opaque color.

Turn off heat, add miso paste, then gently mix with a large whisk or fork until incorporated and soup takes on an opaque color.

DO NOT BOIL SOUP ONCE MISO IS ADDED.

Ladle into soup bowls and top with sliced green onions, togarshi spice and a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil, then serve.
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