Miso Soup

Sometimes light, simple food is best. Sure, there are days when you want a three-layer cake slathered with frosting and a heaping scoop of ice cream on the side. Sometimes you just need fried chicken with a side of French fires. But eat like that every day and you’ll end up feeling a little queasy at the sight of food, not to mention needing bigger pants.

Sometimes it’s just time for a light miso soup and some soy-steamed chicken, broccoli, and zucchini. And as nice as the main dish was (I love it when Mr. B cooks for me!), I’m going to focus on the miso soup today.

Miso is the only soup I will eat. I don’t drink food. I know, it’s weird. But miso soup is so light and simple you can almost think of it as a savory tea, or a slightly enhanced broth. Just holding the bowl is relaxing. When you drink it, you can’t feel stress. Even if it’s over 100°F outside, it’s never too hot for a bowl of miso soup.

Ingredients (serves two)

2 cups water

handful of bonito flakes (about 1/4 ounce)

strip of konbu (thick, flavorful kelp)

3 T miso paste

You can also add chopped cooked tofu, scallions, greens, or whatever else strikes you. I kept it plain.

Directions

Bring the 2 cups of water, kombu, and bonito flakes to a boil. Turn the heat off as soon as the water boils.

Pour the bonito stock (dashi) through a strainer into a bowl.

The stock is really pale and its aroma quite subtle. That’s a good thing.

Scoop the miso paste into the bowl.

Stir vigorously to dissolve the miso.

Pour into two bowls and serve.

I don’t know of any other soup you can make in five minutes. It’s delightful and salty and a perfect accompaniment to just about any Japanese dish (which I suppose is why it comes with everything at just about every Japanese restaurant). There’s no reason to make miso soup out of a packet, ever. They require the same (minimal) amount of work and the taste of homemade is incomparably better.

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