miso soup.

I miss the sunshine.

I know it is February in Portland, and that I should not expect anything more than rain. But last week was nothing short of miraculous. The sun shone for a week straight and I loved every minute of it. I went to the beach and took my shoes off and let the sun warm my face. It felt magnificent. I claimed that the week of sunshine – the ‘February Fakeout – would be enough to carry me through the dark and dreary spring. But I lied. I loved every minute of that sunshine and I want more. But what do you do when you want sunshine and the skies give you dark and dreary rain? You do your best to be thankful for the sun that you had, and comfort yourself with a bowl of something warm and delicious.

I got the idea to make miso soup from my new favorite food blog – 101 Cookbooks. I have had a few friends recommend this blog to me over the past few months, but just hadn’t taken much of a look at it until now. It is such a fantastic resource for thoughtful and seasonal cooking! I am so excited to try her recipes. My friend Jesse and I decided to make dinner last night before watching Project Runway. I was wavering between two recipes I had seen on 101 Cookbooks. One was a recipe for a pasta with a Harissa sauce, and the other was for miso soup. I couldn’t find any Harissa sauce at the grocery store, so our fate was decided. Miso soup for dinner. (Mind you, I am on a quest to find Harissa sauce as its been something I’ve read about for awhile and I realllllly want to try it. If you aren’t familiar, it is a North African/Moroccan Chili Sauce.)

This recipe beefs up the traditional  miso soup with the addition of soba noodles and uses winter greens instead of seaweed. By adding these things, it is much more of a meal (as opposed to a side or starter). There isn’t much “cooking” that happens with miso soup, it is more of a process of combining elements that you’ve cooked separately. I will note that I did make a few changes from the original recipe. The original did not cook the spinach and onions in the broth, rather it just said to pour the brother over the noodles and add in the fresh spinach and green onions. I tried this, and I found the fresh spinach texture to be odd (and it was still kind of cold). So I threw everything in the pot of miso and let it cook for a few minutes before pouring this mixture over the soba noodles. I think this adaptation of the original worked very nicely and allowed the flavors to combine together well. Also, I did not pre-cook my tofu before I put it in the broth, and I think that a slight sautee would have helped to increase the flavor. I absolutely loved the addition of a little Sriacha sauce to the broth. It gave the soup a little kick of spice – and I am always a proponent of a little spice. If we are being honest, the Sriacha took the soup from good to great. Loved it.

I ate this soup for dinner last night and lunch today (it was even better leftover!) and if I had extras I would gladly eat it for dinner tonight. And since the soup is so light and refreshing, my tummy has been very happy with me for eating it. And that is a good thing.

Miso Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

3 ounces dried soba noodles
3 – 4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste – I used a full 4 Tablespoons)
2 – 3 ounces firm tofu (2 handfuls), chopped into very small cubes

A handful of spinach, well washed and roughly chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
A small handful of cilantro (I didn’t have any cilantro on hand, but it would have been great in the soup)
A dash of Sriacha Hot Sauce (the original recipe called for red chili flakes, but I wanted to use Sriacha and it was a good decision))

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 small pan, heat a small amount of peanut or sesame oil and give the tofu a quick pan fry. (I did not cook the tofu at all before I put it in the soup, and I think it would have been better if the tofu was lightly cooked.)

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. (**I added a tiny bit of soy sauce because I felt that it needed salt.)

Add the tofu, green onions, and chopped spinach to the pot of miso mixture. Let cook on low heat for just a couple of minutes – until the spinach gets wilted. Taste and adjust seasonings (and add Sriacha!). Split the noodles between two (or three) bowls, and pour the miso broth and tofu over them. Garnish with cilantro (if using).

2 Responses

  1. Pam Frank says:

    Hi, Lindsay,
    I just got “a platter of figs and other recipes” by David Tanis, one of the Chez Panisse gurus. If you’d like to make your own harissa, here’s his take:
    1 tablespoon cumin seeds
    1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds
    3 tablespoons sweet paprika or mild ground red chile
    1 teaspoon cayenne or other powdered hot red chile
    1-2 garlic cloves, smashed to a past with a little salt
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup olive oil
    a few drops red wine vinegar
    Toast all the seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until they are fragrant. Grind the toasted seeds in a mortar or spice mill, then put them in a bowl. Add the paprika, red pepper, garlic and salt. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar. The harissa will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Makes about 1 cup.

    Enjoying your blog! Somehow I’d missed your wedding photo earlier. It (and you) are darling!
    My best,

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