In the United States, especially in Japanese American restaurants, the standard version of miso soup usually involves little more than soft tofu, seaweed and a lily-pad suspension of scallions. Think of this recipe as your blank canvas: You could add thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms at the end, or replace the katsuobushi entirely with dried shiitakes for a vegan version. Fried tofu, clams and even chicken are all fair game when cooking miso soup at home. The chef Seiji Ando, of Benkay restaurant in Portland, Maine, adds sake and mirin for balance, and says even a tiny bit of butter can be delicious.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1(5-inch) square kombu (dried kelp)
- 1tablespoon sake
- 1tablespoon mirin
- 5grams wakame (dried seaweed), crushed (1/4 cup)
- 2cups loosely packed katsuobushi (often labeled “bonito flakes”)
- 1(14-ounce) package silken tofu, drained
- ¼cup miso (white or red; see Tip), plus more to taste
- 1large scallion, thinly sliced
Step 1Make dashi, the soup base, by soaking kombu in 4 cups of cold water for 15 minutes in a medium pot. Add the sake and mirin and bring to a simmer over high heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, take the pot off the heat, cover and let the kombu steep until the liquid smells like the sea, about 15 minutes.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak the wakame in about 3 inches of cold water until soft, about 15 minutes as well. Drain and set aside.
Step 3When ready to serve, remove the kombu from the pot (see Tip). Stir the katsuobushi into the kombu broth, cover and let steep for 1 minute. Strain into a medium bowl, pressing down on the katsuobushi to extract all of the liquid; discard the spent flakes. This is your dashi.
Step 4Return the dashi to the pot and add the drained wakame. Scoop the tofu into the pot using a spoon or your hand, leaving it in large chunks. Bring the soup to a boil, then remove from the heat.
Step 5Add the miso to a small bowl, then ladle over some of the broth and stir to dissolve. Add the dissolved miso to the pot and gently stir until incorporated. Add the scallion, taste for seasoning (adding more miso if you’d like) and serve immediately.