Last year I spent the entire month of February dedicated to Asian foods so click here if you want some recipe ideas to celebrate Asian culture and the new year through food
I know, it seems I am going all Michael Smith crazy but in fact I am recipe testing his book The Best of Chef at Home: Essential Recipes for Today’s Kitchen. When I saw that he had a recipe for miso soup, I thought it would be the perfect recipe to test during this cold and bitter week.
I love miso soup. It is exotic, unusual and healthy. Some people start their day with a bowl of miso in broth and I am almost tempted. There is something about miso that just makes you feel better. A great soup on a rotten cold day and we get those all the time. I have typed the recipe as it appears in the cookbook but note that when I made it I divided it in half since I was just cooking just for myself.
Bring 4 cups of chicken broth or water to a simmer in a stockpot. Grate in a small knob of ginger into the broth. I had some firm cubed tofu in the freezer so I added it to the pot. For me, tofu is essential for a good miso soup and adds protein to complete the meal.
Thinly slice 2 cups of shiitake or button mushrooms. I used a bit of both.
Add mushrooms and simmer for about ten minutes.
You will be using soba noodles in this recipe which I adore! So much healthier for you than regular noodles, these are worth the additional expense and truly make the dish.
Add the soba noodles and cook for approximately 5 minutes. OK, now here is where I went off the flavour map. Chef Smith says to add 4 heaping tablespoons of miso paste, a dash or two of hot pepper sauce, 1 sheet of nori seaweed finely shredded with scissors and 2 green onions finely sliced and cook for one minute. Everything I have learned about miso says to NEVER cook it so instead I just put a little of all of the above at the bottom of my bowl and poured the soup on top:
First, because of the miso, I would recommend using 2 cups broth and 2 cups water for this recipe. It gets very salty fast, especially when you simmer the broth for 10 minutes. I used a sodium-reduced broth and wow, still very salty. I would rather my salt and flavour come from the miso instead of the broth anyway. Overall, the soup was OK. I was hoping for more, to be honest. This is a good base of a recipe but on its own, a little ordinary. A drizzle of sesame oil would have been great, maybe a handful of green peas tossed in the last few minutes…
As with most of Michael Smith’s recipe there is nothing wrong with it. It is just lacking something. As a result, I can only give this soup four out of five wooden spoons. Since I feel a little lacklustre about this dish and how I did, I am still not sure I have shifted the energy and got my foodie mojo back, damn it.
Debra She Who Seeks says
I just read a recipe for miso soup that said it’s okay to simmer the miso but never bring it to a boil. I like miso soup too but Michael Smith’s recipe seems a little . . . busy . . . for miso soup, if you know what I mean.
I think this looks really tasty, I’ve honestly never tried miso, but I keep hearing such good things about it, maybe it’s time to introduce it to my cuisine. And oh, look at all those mushrooms, so YUM!
Were you able to get the miso and the noodles at your Superstore or did you have to go to a specialty shop for them? I’ve seen the soba noodles pre-cooked and vacuumed packed, but that never seemed to appeal to me. I would much prefer the dry noodles and cook them myself. I would love to know where you found them.
Anna C says
Susie, the first time I tried miso soup was years ago when we had some Japanese exchange students. They had actually brought a miso paste from Kyoto and were so excited to have our family try some. Since then I’ve only had it a few times. I can’t say it’s the most exciting soup I’ve ever had. However as you pointed out it is super healthy, filled with proteins, minerals and vitamins. This alone makes me want to give it a stab and make some at home. Do you think the quality of the miso paste would make a difference?
Suzie Ridler says
Definitely never boil miso it is true Debra. I would hate to miss out on the nutrients and working it into the soup is how I was taught to make it although I can not remember who taught me that.
Ava, I got both at the Superstore, including the seawee. They were in the health food section where you get the better soy sauces like tamari. You can do it!
Yes, I have heard that Anna, people bringing it from Japan. I hav had the white miso and find it to yeasty which is why I refer the rusty red kind but not the dark one. I find it very soothing and add some heat to it like siracha sauce make it more interesting.
Jennifer - Own Your Food says
I find it very interesting that you say that there’s nothing wrong with Michael Smith dishes, but that they’re kind of missing something. I think Michael’s Smith’s show, Chef at Home, taught me a lot about cooking, and opened up lots of different foods and ideas for me. However, as I continued cooking, I found that I relied on his recipes and ideas less ad less, as I just found some others to be well, tastier and his, as you said, missing something.
I was curious about this soup, and was very happy to see that you’d reviewed it. While I give Michael Smith a lot of credit for my culinary beginnings, I sometimes find a lack of excitement in some of his dishes. I do, however, still keep all my bulk items in Mason Jars!
Suzie Ridler says
Well I think we are totally on the same page about Michael Smith and you make an excellent point. I think he really is a teacher first in a lot of ways, showing the basics but once you know them, you can move on to more complex flavours. He does make food feel less intimidating which is a big gift of his, he helped me out with his show a lot when I was starting out too. Thank you, your comment really helped me with my review, I appreciate that.
I know! I want to put EVERYTHING in mason jars thanks to him! Oh I need a pantry like he has. 🙂
~ Lyndsay The Kitchen Witch says
Miso is my ultimate comfort dish if I’m feeling run down. I have a favourite restaurant where I treat myself so I’ve never actually made it.
I’ve only tried one recipe from Michael Smith and it was a success – Roast Chicken and Apples. I’m with you, though, I HAD to get all my spices and pantry goods into canning jars 🙂
I just made some miso soup this morning. For authentic miso soup you will need to start with a dashi soup base. For about 4 cups of water, I would use more than maybe a Tb of “white” miso paste. Apparently white miso is less salty than red miso. Then I’d let the soup simmer a bit before adding the cubed tofu. For mushroom, I usually use the dried chinese mushroom (reconstituted first, of course, then sliced). Then add some wakame (you can find it dried. Just add water and watch it expand). And there you have it! Simple miso soup. Noodles are optional but are a good addition if you want more substance in the soup.
Suzie Ridler says
Lindsey, I first discovered the soup while in Toronto and fell in love with it. Mine has never been as good! I know, love those jars eh?
Boobokitty, great tip about the dashi soup base. I personally do not like white miso but agree, it is less salty. Thanks for sharing how you make it, sounds totally authentic to me! So yummy.
I really should proof-red stuff I write so early in the morning! That should have been: use not more than maybe a Tb of “white” miso paste. 🙂
I have used red miso before and it’s still tasty, but there’s that salt content issue.