Posting from: Philipsburg, MT
Listening to: Carole King, I Feel the Earth Move
I am rarely sick, but when I am I find myself craving miso soup like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, I have never actually lived near miso soup, and as best I can tell I currently live almost an hour and a half away from my closest miso soup vendor. I have tried packets of instant miso soup with no satisfaction. I recently issued a desperate plea for help which was answered by M.R. Jarrell who pointed me to Alton Brown’s miso soup recipe and the dashi recipe required to keep it 100% from scratch. I made a couple of modifications to turn it into the miso soup I’ve always wanted but never had. All the variations I’ve had were good, but either lacked mushrooms or contained tofu or both.
Here is what I turned out with step-by-step instructions. I was able to find all the ingredients at the Good Food Store in Missoula, MT.
2 (4-inch) square pieces kombu
2 1/2 quarts water
1/2-ounce bonito flakes
Put the kombu in a saucepan (at least 4-quart) or stock pot, cover with the water and soak for 30 minutes.
Heat on medium until the water reaches 150 to 160 degrees F and small bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, 9 to 10 minutes.
Remove the kombu from the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito flakes. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with muslin or several layers of cheesecloth.
2 quarts dashi
6 tablespoons dark or red miso
2 tablespoons light or white miso
4 scallions, thinly sliced
5-6 mushrooms thinly sliced
toasted nori strips
If cool, heat the dashi over medium-high heat. If still hot, let the dashi cool. When the dashi reaches 100 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, ladle 1 cup into a small bowl.
Add the miso, and whisk until smooth. Do a good job here so your final product doesn’t come out lumpy.
Bring the remaining dashi to a bare simmer, approximately 10 minutes. Add the miso mixture and whisk to combine.
Return to a slight simmer, being careful not to boil the mixture. Add the mushrooms and scallions and cook for another minute or until heated through.
Add a few toasted nori strips to the bottom of each soup bowl.
Remove from the heat, ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
I found this miso soup to be much more delicious than any of the instant packets I’ve tried and comparable to any restaurant version. The main differences I found were that this one was slightly less salty than restaurant versions I’ve had, not necessarily a bad thing, and when I had a second bowl I noticed a fair number of lumps. I’m not sure if those would have been solved by more whisking before adding the miso mixture to the soup, or if those happened because the soup had cooled a bit. Overall, I am very happy with the final product, and I will definitely be making it again.