True story: this recipe helped me get a job. I’ll explain in a bit. First, I should say that I originally published this recipe on Everything2 back in the day, so it’s an oldie but a goodie. Second, I’m posting it here in newly updated form in honor of the April No Croutons Required challenge (originally described here) from Lisa’s Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes, which I learned about here at Is My Blog Burning? Finally, the story about that job. It was during my year in Laguna Beach, when I was finishing the very last requirements on my undergraduate degree, and applied for a job tutoring high school kids on the SAT. After turning a practice test inside out, I was invited for a group interview, for which all the candidates were asked to prepare a short instructional lecture of some kind. Mine was this recipe. (You think maybe I was in the wrong line of work and didn’t know it yet? Um…) Anyway, without further ado, here’s:
Mushroom Miso Soup
This is a simple vegan soup rich in flavor and protein. Traditionally, the broth for miso soup is dashi, made with seaweed and/or fish paste, and I hope to write a post about that (and stock/broth in general) eventually, but for this soup I make a light, watery mushroom broth instead. I wrote more about miso back in September, and for a quick soup recipe suitable for breakfast even when you’re too sick to take good care of yourself, check out About miso soup (the very quick breakfast version).
for about four servings in about half an hour
- a largish pot (at least 3 quarts, to be on the safe side)
- vegetable oil
- half a pound of mushrooms (I used the plain white ones that come pre-sliced at the supermarket because I’m lazy, but you might want to experiment with combinations of more flavorful ‘shrooms, like cremini or shiitake)
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 quarts of water (6 cups)
- half a cup of red miso
- half a cup of white miso
- a heatproof bowl
- some kind of ladle
- 1/3 to 1/2 pound of tofu (I used firm, but firm silken would probably be ideal, texture-wise)
- 2-3 scallions/green onions, sliced thin for garnish (optional but awesome)
- soy sauce (shoyu or tamari, whatever you like) for seasoning soup as you eat (optional depending on the miso and your personal tastes)
SautÃ© the mushrooms in the oil in the pot over medium to high heat. When they start to brown and soften and smell good, add the garlic and lower the heat. Continue to sautÃ©, maybe five more minutes, until the garlic juices mix with the liquid released by the mushrooms. Add the water, turn up the heat, and let everything simmer up to a boil.
While you’re waiting for the broth to boil, measure the miso and put it in the heatproof bowl. When the contents of the pot begin to boil, turn down the heat under them and start ladling broth into the miso. Mix. Keep adding broth until the miso mixture is uniformly thickly liquid in its consistency. Turn down the heat on the broth again.
Add the miso mixture to the broth. Stir. Go read something or wash the few dishes you’ve made; anything to keep from tasting the soup at this point, because if you do you might get nervous about the flavor and end up adding way too much soy sauce, like I did the first time I made this. It’ll be fine, so find something else to do. But keep one eye on the broth; try not to let it boil.
Slice the tofu into smallish cubes (~1 cm) and divide it up between the bowls you’re planning to serve the soup in. I used about 1/6 pound per person, but you might want to use a little more.
Ladle the soup into the bowls, until the tofu is covered. Serve garnished with green onions. Turn off the heat under any remaining soup and enjoy your meal. Depending on the salt levels in your miso, you may not even need to season the soup with additional soy sauce, which is why I’ve listed it as an optional ingredient above.
Leftovers are excellent gently reheated the next day (perhaps for breakfast!)