May 11th, 2011
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. For now, I’ll point you to some trusted resources so that you can begin experimenting with dashi on your own: La Fuji Mama, Food and Wine and Epicurious.
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!