This is a warming nurturing soup made the traditional Japanese way. I actually taught myself how to make this soup from reading Nobu”s first cookbook. Then I just started making it so much that I memorized it and then added my own flair. Miso soup is incredibly healing. It has live enzymes in it’s paste, as it is slightly fermented, so it alkalines your blood (along with the kombu) and helps to to heal your body, especially if you are taking antibiotics. Plus you get all the added nutrients from the seaweed and mushrooms.
*You can save the remainder, and if you are cooking for one, you can put into a tight container for up to three days, as you want to retain the live nutrients of the miso. Its sort of pain to make this soup properly, so it is a good idea to make it in larger quantities, and save the remainder. But you must never heat the soup to boiling or you will destroy the enzymes in the miso, which is a big benefit of eating this soup. So heat slowly just until warmed through. Take off the heat as soon as you see the first bubble, or less than.
- A handful of bonito flakes
- 1 hand sized piece of Kombu (Japanese seaweed found in asian supermarkets or online or whole foods)
- 10 to 12 shitake mushrooms, stems removed
- one can of water chestnuts, sliced in halves
- two carrots, shredded, julienned, or sliced on a mandolin into strips (make them thin and as cool as cool as you want, they are the feature veg)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced very fine
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 4-5 tbsp fresh miso paste ( light brown is the sweetest, but hard to get in Europe. Barley miso is common in most health food shops, but if you use this variety I suggest adding a dash of agave, or brown sugar, as it is bitter)
- 8 -10 diced scallion/spring onion, saving the top bits for the end garnish
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted if you want to go full on, otherwise don’t worry, the oils are healthier raw.
Preheat an oven to 200C. Take a baking dish and line with foil. Place your mushrooms in the dish, caps up, and spray/brush with a teeny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for ten to fifteen minutes, or until brown. Let them rest, dice, and put aside. These are also great tossed in salads.
Take a large pot and fill 1/3 with water. Bring to a boil. Throw in your kombu and gently boil on medium low heat (tiny bubbles) for about 15 minutes. Pass through a sieve/strainer and press the seaweed with a spoon for ultimate flavor.
Put your bonito flakes into the hot flavoured water and let them melt.
Strain again through a sieve after five minutes.
You now have your broth. Take a sip to taste.
Take two tablespoons of your broth and add to your miso paste in small bowl. Mix to make a paste. Put aside.
Heat to a very gentle simmer and add the carrots and garlic. Cook two minutes. Add the chestnuts, vinegar, and mirin. Stir.
Turn off the heat and add your miso, slowly, and scallions.
Serve into four small bowls, lukewarm is traditional, but feel free to heat it up just before serving (not boiling).
In each bowl, top with sesame seeds, scallion tops, and roasted shitake mushrooms.
*On a western level, I find that adding fresh English peas or sugar snap peas with the carrots give great texture, and bean sprouts or seeds at the end when serving add an extra crunch and health benefit. Also, shrimp/shellfish goes great to add for a fuller dish, add raw and simultaneously with the carrots…shellfish in a hot broth will cook in two minutes perfectly.