In the past few weeks, I haven't had much occasion to cook. I went to a community retreat the weekend before last at which the vegetarian food was provided. This past week I was feverish and sick on Thursday and Friday, so my husband cooked. He made his special aloo saag (Indian-style potatoes and spinach) and this great Julie Sahni zucchini dish, and brown basmati rice.
This weekend it looks like we are going to be out of town again.
I was thinking about what I've been eating during the week. I have been flirting with raw diets and with the pro-probiotics crowd. (I like to read up on the latest nutritional fads on the internet!) So for lunch almost every weekday I have been having green salad and miso soup. My salad isn't 100% raw, I like to thaw frozen green beans or peas and put them on top. I also like canned artichoke hearts.
When I make miso soup I usually make a traditional (ish!) dashi of kombu and dried mushrooms. If I don't have other greens, I'll soak a little wakame while the dashi is cooking and then I can drain it and put it in the soup. But lately I ran out of mushrooms and I'm experimenting. Sandor Katz (in that fun book I reviewed briefly here) says that you should put garlic in your miso broth. I was skeptical, but last week when I was feeling sick I put in both garlic and ginger with my kombu. I put in chopped bok choy and cubed tofu and I used two kinds of miso, and it was wonderful!
If you want your miso soup to be delicious, it's important to mix the miso paste with water before you add it to the soup. The stuff doesn't dissolve, it will stay lumpy if you don't mix it up. We use a suribachi, a Japanese grooved ceramic mortar and wooden pestle. My two year old son likes to mix the miso. He doesn't actually eat the soup most of the time, but he likes to be the mixer.
So here's a method for you:
one piece kombu
three cups water (appromixately!)
dried mushrooms (2 or 3) --fresh will also work
bokchoy or nappa cabbage (about 1 1/2 cups chopped is enough)
or, soak two tablespoons dried wakame in 2 cups water
1/2 cake water packed firm tofu or 1 cake silken extra firm tofu
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
slice of fresh ginger the size of a quarter, jullienned
1 1/2 tablespoons each, sweet white and dark miso pastes
If you can remember to do this, it's good to soak the kombu and mushrooms before you cook them. If not, don't worry. Simmer the kombu and the mushrooms, the garlic and the ginger together for 30-45 minutes, or until your broth has an excellent aroma. While you are doing this you can prepare your greens and mix your miso. Add the greens and tofu and cook for about five minutes or until the bok choy is wilted and the tofu slightly firmed up. Mix the miso with water until it is very smooth. Turn off soup and add miso.
Seaweed is cooling and cleansing but I prefer bok choy because the peppery flavor is very pleasant. One great thing about using seaweed is you can keep dried seaweed on hand for a long time and a small quantity makes a lot of greens.