May 11th, 2011

{recipe} Loaded Miso Soup

Loaded Miso Soup

Have you grown tired of me talking about how busy I am with Peko Peko, my charity cookbook for Japan? (I have!)

Well, there’s good news: the finish line is in sight! The book is almost done (more details here) and breathtakingly gorgeous thanks to Rieko, our book designer. Between this suuurious last push and the Hungry Baby’s weirdo issues (he’s starting to feel better and we’re waiting on tests; keep you posted and thanks for checking in!), I’ve been all about the fast food.

I’ve also been all about soba noodles. I made a big bowl a few weeks back and the Hungry Boy has been obsessed ever since.

Put the two together and (among other things) you get this simple, healthful Loaded Miso Soup.

This soup has a very delicate flavor that you can enjoy as is or that you can spike. I add soy sauce and a dash of rice vinegar for the Hungry Boys; the same plus a healthy dose of sriracha for me and the Hungry Papa. If chicken soup feeds the soul, this Loaded Miso Soup’s got your mind and spirit covered.

I’m not exactly sure what I mean either, but I know that this stuff is really good.

Miso soup can be made using water, vegetable broth or even chicken broth. There will be taste variations, but all three work well enough. Ideally, though, you should use dashi, a very easy to make Japanese stock made from water, bonito flakes and kombu (dried seaweed). Dashi is the base of many Japanese recipes, making it a staple in Japanese homes. Making a batch takes no time and can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days so that you have it on hand for anything from noodles to spinach, dressings to sauces.

I’ve been making tons of dashi to test Peko dishes and have come to learn that there’s no one “proper” recipe. Rather, you can slightly adjust the ratio of bonito flakes to kombu to suit your tastes. (Just remember to keep it subtle; you don’t want too strong a fish flavor.) I have come up with my own favorite recipe (plus a vegetarian version!) which kicks off the book. (UPDATE: Here’s my Quick Vegetarian Dashi.)

Then, you can make this soup. Or, go ahead and grab the broth. I know what it’s like. Especially these days.

Loaded Miso Soup
serves 4 as a main
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*

6-oz package soba noodles
4 cups dashi, water or broth
4-5 tablespoons miso paste**, to taste
4 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
4-oz shitake or white button mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, sliced
3-oz firm tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 bell pepper, cut into 1/4″ strips
2 scallions, green parts only, chopped
toasted or black sesame seeds, optional

1. Cook soba noodles in salted water as per package instructions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

2. Pour dashi, water or broth into a medium stock pot and heat until just simmering. Ladle out a mugful of the dashi and whisk in the miso paste until the mixture is completely smooth (you can add more dashi to the mug if necessary). Add the smooth miso mixture to the stock pot, along with the baby bok choy and grated ginger. Keep at low simmer for about a minute. (Miso loses it’s flavor if cooked too much; be careful not to bring the soup to a boil.)

3. Add mushrooms, tofu and bell pepper and immediately take off of the heat. Let the soup sit for a minute or two, allowing the vegetable to soften slightly.

4. In the meantime, divide soba noodles between 4 serving bowls. Pour soup over the top, making sure to get vegetables into each bowl. Top each bowl with scallion and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

*Note: Be sure to cool the soup and puree or cut vegetables and noodles into age appropriate bite sizes before feeding to early eaters.

**See note in comments about miso paste!

11 Responses

  1. Micah says:

    Where do you find miso paste? This sounds amazing.

  2. One Hungry Mama says:

    Micha: miso paste is a very common Japanese ingredient that you should find at *any* Japanese grocery store, no matter how basic. A lot of natural food stores will have it, too, small ones and Whole Foods alike. Or you order some online at a Japanese grocery like this one: http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/category/miso-paste-soup or even through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=white+miso+paste&x=0&y=0.

    Note that there are three kinds: white, yellow and red (which is not actually red, but the darkest variety). The simplest explanation is that the darker the paste, the longer it’s been fermented, the stronger the flavor. I believe that yellow is most commonly used for soup, but you can use any miso paste (keeping in mind that white will be very subtle) or a even a combination.

  3. Heather says:

    Sounds like a yummy recipe! I’d like to note that you have allergy disclaimers on all your nut recipes for infants relating to when to introduce common allergies. Soy is listed in the top eight major allergies and this would qualify for this disclaimer? Or do you have a different take on soy allergies? I love your blog and all of your recipes, thank you for all your hard work.

  4. One Hungry Mama says:

    Hi Heather. Great question! And you’re right that I should have added a note. Will make an update to the post as soon as I can. In the meantime:

    Soy is an allergen in a similar way as wheat. Though both are allergenic, both have typically been accepted as foods that can be introduced with a watchful eye starting around 8 months. It’s not uncommon for baby food sites — even conservative ones — to recommend tofu, for example, as an early finger food. This is unlike strawberries, for example, that used to be recommended starting as late as 12 months.

    There are two other important points here, though:

    1. Recommendations on food introductions have changed! As I often talk about here, it is not believed (and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics) that holding off on high allergen foods does not prevent allergies. If your child has a food allergy, they will have it whether you introduce the allergen at 6 mos or at 24 mos. For that reason, you must always introduce high allergen foods with a watchful eye but, other than that, you can introduce any food as early as 6 months, especially if your child has no known food allergies or family history of food allergies. If an allergy crops up, you can adjust their diet accordingly. So, from soy to peanuts, strawberries to eggs, bring it on from the first bites. Just be mindful of what might be a trigger and be prepared if there is a reaction.

    2. Even aside from allergies, soy is a tricky ingredient. There is a lot of question about it’s health benefits. It’s a complicated matter, but I can tell you this: diets that include soy that have been proven healthful (e.g., the Japanese diet) include soy in small amounts. Soy is not a full on, regular, one-to-one substitute for a full portion of meat, especially in American sized portions. Rather, soy should be enjoyed in small portions that enhance a balanced dish.

    Hope this helps!

  5. kristin says:

    oh my gosh, this is so healthy and it sounds like its loaded with flavor – i can’t wait to try it, thank you!

  6. Micah says:

    Thank you!! I’m in the process of learning about and changing my family’s eating habits. I adore your site and come often for family friendly recipes my husband, 3 year old, 8 month old and I can all enjoy together! I’ll check out Whole Foods for the Miso paste.

  7. Rieko says:

    OMG I gotta try this!

  8. Kathleen says:

    This looks so delicious and healthy! YUM

  9. Valerie B. says:

    I found this recipe on a foodgawker.com search and made it for dinner tonight. Omitted the bok choy and added wakame.
    Thanks for the recipe, it was delicious!

  10. So glad that you enjoyed this, Valerine. Thanks for letting us know!

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