The last two days in Montreal were marked by intense rain storms, winds of 100km/hr, and power outages. I slept over at my parents house in order to help them host a family lunch… we ate in the dark by candle light after running outside to stop our neighbour’s carport from rolling into our car. It was a close call. Needless to say, Fall is turning to Winter and that means it’s time to add easy, delicious, and satisfying soups to our repertoire.
Miso is a fermented soya bean paste that’s good for gut health since it contains live probiotics, so it was my vegetarian mom’s equivalent of chicken soup. It’s nourishing, versatile, and guaranteed to warm you to your bones. Miso paste is typically made into a broth with little squares of soft tofu and strips of seaweed eaten as an appetizer. But I grew up having it for dinner, bulked up with noodles, big pieces of crispy tofu, and lots of steamed veggies. It’s the perfect 15 minute meal since it’s so adaptable to whatever it is that you have on hand.
Miso: 1 1/2 cups water/person + 1-2 tablespoons dark miso paste
I love using a dark miso paste since it’s saltier and more intensely flavoured, however, if you only have light miso, feel free to add a splash of soya sauce/tamari to add more oomph. I also like to add some grated ginger and sriracha or sambal olek to my broth for kick. Sliced dried shitake mushrooms are also very tasty, and I enjoy their chewiness once they’ve been rehydrated for a few minutes in the hot water.
Noodles: Soba/Rice – 80g/person
When it comes to noodles, soba are my favorite. These are made with a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour, and the nuttiness of the buckwheat complements the savouriness of the miso so well. Not to mention that soba noodles are sold in pre-portioned packs, and unless you’re soooooouper hungry, one pack = one portion which is very convenient. Rice noodles are quite good in miso soup as well, though I would recommend using a medium thickness and avoiding the vermicelli-thin ones.
For vegetables, add whatever you’d like. The goal of this soup is to have dinner in under 15 minutes so do what’s easy for you. Throw in a handful of pre-sliced mushrooms and snowpeas if you have no desire to get out a cutting board. I always have cabbage and carrots in the fridge so those are the two veggies I turn to most often. I absolutely love ribboned carrot. I take a carrot and use a vegetable peeled to make long strands, turning the carrot every few “peels” in order to use as much of it as possible.
– Raddishes, thinly sliced
– Cabbage, thinly sliced
– Carrot, peeled into ribbon (super easy with a regular vegetable peeler)
– Broccoli, cut into florets, and steamed
– Bok choy, sliced
– Snow peas
– Frozen shelled edamame, steamed
– Fresh baby spinach
– White button mushrooms, sliced
Soft/medium tofu, unseasoned, right out of the pack, is a classic choice in miso soup. But I love taking firm tofu, pan frying it in a little oil over medium heat, and then seasoning with a splash of tamari. You can absolutely use soya sauce, but I prefer the taste of tamari.
Finally, some torn up nori and sliced up scallions (you can even snip them with a scissor) are great final touches to your soup.
1. Start the prep for your desired ingredients. Bring water to a boil and cook your noodles (both soba and rice noodles take 3-4 minutes). Put your tofu into a pan to get crispy. Cut the veggies up.
2. Bring your water to a boil for the broth. Do this in a pot if you’re including ginger and mushrooms so that you can put them into the cold water, giving them time to impart their flavour. But if you’re forgoing those ingredients, you can use an electric kettle.
3. Place your miso in a bowl and add boiling water bit by bit, using a spoon or small whisk to create a smooth liquidy paste (called a slurry) before adding it to the rest of the hot water. This will allow it to dissolve properly and avoids clumps of miso in the soup. Since miso contains live probiotics it’s important to not bring it to a boil.
4. Taste the broth and make sure it’s delicious. If it’s not strong enough, thin out some more miso or splash in some soy/tamari.
5. Place your prepared ingredients (noodles, veg, tofu) into a very large soup bowl and cover with the broth.
5. Garnish with nori, scallions and maybe some more hot sauce.
6. Slup with gusto and delight!