My husband and I went on a well needed getaway. We drove from beautiful Asheville, North Carolina to Augusta, Georgia without ever getting on an interstate highway. We took U.S. highway 25 through small towns and rural areas of South Carolina. Along the way we saw many not-yet-opened for the season stands promoting peaches and boiled peanuts. We saw dozens of antique stores which made Pritchard Parker very happy. We saw abandoned farmhouses and barns in various states of decrepitude. We saw sprawling McMansions. We drove through several quaint and beautifully maintained small towns.
And we drove through vast expanses of nothing but pine trees and straight, flat roads. (Which make Pritchard Parker nervous because he is so used to driving on the steep and curving roads in the mountains). We saw beautiful sunsets and a full moon rising, which was a special treat for us because we are not used to seeing the horizon.
Once home, after sleeping in a hotel room and eating restaurant food, as much as I enjoyed it, I wanted something simple and easy to cook; nourishing and grounding to eat.
Thus miso soup.
The miso I use is locally produced using ancient methods. The good news is that it is available nationwide through Great Eastern Sun and you can even order it from their website. (Not an affiliated link).
Miso is a high-protein, fermented soy product with a salty flavor which is very health-promoting. Miso is considered a living food, therefore, you never want to boil it. If your soup is not cloudy and moving around, the enzymes have been destroyed. Miso soup begins with a broth called Dashi which is made from Kombu and Bonito flakes.
Bonito, a mackerel, is steamed, smoked, aged, dried to a wood-like hardness, and shaved into flakes.
Dashi is a very flavorful broth for cooking all kinds of foods. With some added soy sauce, it makes a wonderfully satisfying noodle broth.
For miso soup, I love using Japanese style silken tofu which is unlike the Chinese style tofu, packed in water, and found in produce departments. This tofu really does have a delicate and silken texture without the tangy taste. Find it on the grocery shelf in aseptic boxes.
Restorative Miso Soup
2 quarts dashi
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 bunches baby bok choy, sliced
6 Tbsp. traditional red miso
12 oz. silken tofu, cut into cubes
Bring dashi to a simmer. Ladle about 1 cup into a small bowl, add the miso and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Bring the remaining dashi back to a simmer and add the scallions, carrots, bok choy, letting them cook until barely tender. Add the tofu and the miso being careful not to boil the mixture. Once it is heated through, ladle into soup bowls and garnish with additional sliced scallions and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
2 (4-inch) square pieces of kombu
2 quarts water
1 cup bonito flakes
Place the kombu in a large saucepan, cover with the water and soak for 30 minutes.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the bonito flakes and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth and return to the pan. Continue with the recipe.