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August 30, 2009

Miso Soup

Whenever I go out for Japanese food I always order miso soup for starters. Typically it is the simple combination of miso broth with tofu, seaweed, and green onions. This week I decided to try the variation to the classic recipe that I found on 101 cookbooks. The addition of soba noodles turned this from being just an appetizer into a stand alone meal. This recipe also swaps out the greens from seaweed to baby spinach. I must admit I ended up really missing the yummy salty seaweed, but it's really the only thing I'd change about this recipe.

Miso paste is available in a variety of colors white, yellow, red, and black. Generally the darker the color the saltier and deeper the flavor is. I used yellow miso paste and ended up needing 3 tablespoons for this recipe. I recommend starting with 2 tbsp and adding an additional tbsp until it is to your liking.

Miso Soup
(from 101 cookbooks)

3 ounces dried soba noodles
2 - 4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
2 - 3 ounces firm tofu (2 handfuls), chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
a handful of watercress or spinach, well washed and stems trimmed
2 green onions, tops removed thinly sliced
a small handful of cilantro
a pinch of red pepper flakes

Cook the soba noodles in salted water, drain, run cold water over the noodles to stop them from cooking, shake off any excess water and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and remove from heat. Pour a bit of the hot water into a small bowl and whisk in the miso paste - so it thins out a bit (this step is to avoid clumping). Stir this back into the pot. Taste, and then add more (the same way) a bit at a time until it is to your liking. Also, some miso pastes are less-salty than others, so you may need to add a bit of salt here. Add the tofu, remove from the heat, and let it sit for just a minute or so.

Split the noodles between two (or three) bowls, and pour the miso broth and tofu over them. Add some watercress, green onions, cilantro, and red pepper flakes to each bowl and enjoy.

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