This New York Times recipe for miso soup from Tamar Adler is ideal for for easing minor ailments that can make one miserable. The recipe results in a large amount, so you can freeze half for any future illnesses. Of course you don’t need to wait until you are sick to make the soup–perhaps it prevents illness too.
The recipe gives directions for making your own dashi, or bonitofish broth, from scratch. Some people use HonDashi or similar instant dashi products instead of making their own. One teaspoon makes 3-6 cups of broth. I haven’t tried instant dashi but it is available at Asian grocery stores and on Amazon.
I made this soup while reading the English writer Patience Gray’s biography. Her most famous book was Honey from a Weed, about her life in a remote part of Italy. Patience could charitably be described as quirky and one of her many focuses was on foraging weeds and other plants. She quotes the Italian proverb “Chi vo far ‘na bona zena i magn’un erb’ d’tut la mena,” or “Who wants to eat a good supper should eat a weed of every kind.” In homage to Patience I used dandelion greens in our soup, though I did not forage outdoors for the greens.
The original recipe called for tossing out the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms with the rest of the dashi aromatics. Instead I retrieved them from the colander, sliced them thinly, and added them back into the dashi with the rest of the soup ingredients. I enjoyed them in the soup.
The notes from commenters on the New York Times recipe website were helpful. Many people pointed out that miso is a living food, like yogurt, and it should not be boiled. Another commenter explained a nice way to incorporate the miso into the soup.
1 package kombu (about 2 ounces)
4 quarts water
2 cloves garlic
2 ½ cups dried bonito flakes
½ teaspoon chile flakes
¼ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
REST OF SOUP
5 tablespoons miso paste
3 cups chopped greens, like broccoli rabe, kale or stemmed collards
½ cup chopped scallions or spring onion
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 block silken tofu, cut in half horizontally then into squares
4 cups chopped cilantro, or combination cilantro and basil
Make homemade dashi or 4 quarts instant dashi.
For homemade dashi, wipe kombu with a damp cloth, and break into a few pieces. Put in a pot with water. Bring almost to a boil, then turn off heat; remove kombu with tongs.
Add garlic, bonito flakes, chile and shiitakes. Bring to a boil, and let boil 30 seconds. Turn off heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Drain through a colander into a bowl. Put dashi back into pot.
Add greens and scallions or onion. Cook 3 minutes. Add fish sauce, salt and sugar. Lower to a simmer. Add tofu. Cook at bare simmer 10 minutes. Turn off. Add herbs. Put miso paste in a small strainer and lower it into the broth, allowing the broth to almost fill the strainer but not overflow. Use a small whisk to dissolve, which may take raising and lowering the strainer several times.
(An alternate way to avoid miso lumps in your soup: Alaina Sullivan at Bon Appetit recommends making a miso slurry before adding the miso to the stock. Mix the miso with a bit of the warm broth and whisk so that it dissolves fully, then pour it back into the warm broth.)
Just before serving, squeeze lemon juice into soup, to the sourness that you like.