Sometimes, even in the heat of the summer, all you need is a big bowl of warm and comforting soup. It doesn’t matter how hot it is outside, when soup calls, pick up the phone.
The smell of miso soup is so oddly familiar and comforting to me. When I was a kiddo and my parents wanted to take the whole family out for a nice dinner, we usually ended up at a Japanese restaurant, and small bowls of miso soup were served to everyone at the table. It was quintessential to every Japanese restaurant we went to, and I ended up gaining such a love for it, that my parents made sure we always had those dried, stir-in packets of miso soup in the pantry at all times. It was so easy to prepare, and always 100% satisfying.
More recently, I’ve been using the miso in my kitchen arsenal to make vegan cheese, since its funky, umami flavor creates an “aged” taste, but every now and again I have to get back to my roots and just simply stir it into some soup.
What is Miso Paste?
Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans. The beans are mixed with salt, and a mold called koji. Koji’s microbiological name is Aspergillus oryzae, and it is the same mold that is used to make the alcoholic beverage, sake! Similar to yeast, it acts as an enzyme to digest starches and breaks them down into simple sugars that can be fermented. Once the beans have been inoculated with koji, this mixture is fermented anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. The fermentation process is what gives the paste its distinct umami flavor, and the longer it is fermented, the darker it will be in color, and the deeper and more complex its flavor will be.
For this recipe, we are using white miso paste, which is fairly mild in flavor and slightly sweet but still reigns in that funky umami flavor that is so sought after.
How to make Mushroom Miso Potion
In just about ten minutes, you’ll have a soup prepared that is:
Add the broth, tofu, and seaweed to a pot
Begin making this recipe by placing the veggie broth, sliced tofu, and seaweed into a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Bring everything to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer.
I recommend using an unsalted, or low sodium veggie broth for this recipe, as the miso paste will add enough salt to compensate. Alternatively, you could use water in place of veggie broth.
The seaweed I used was dried Organic Whole Leaf Wakame from Ocean’s Balance. Per instructions on the package, I soaked the seaweed in room temperature water for about ten minutes and then squeezed out all the water. After soaking and squeezing, the seaweed becomes more pliable and able to fit into a measuring cup. However, to save yourself some time, you could just eyeball the amount of seaweed you want and toss it directly into the pot from its dried form.
Fry the mushrooms
While the broth is warming up, begin frying the mushrooms. Add oil to the pan and once it’s hot, toss in the sliced mushrooms. Flip and stir occasionally to prevent burning, but not too frequently. Fry them until they are golden brown, and then remove them from heat.
If you would like to skip this step, do it! Instead, toss the sliced mushrooms in with the tofu and seaweed and cook them until tender. Either will be equally as delicious.
Add the miso paste
Carefully scoop out half a cup of the broth, avoiding the tofu and seaweed, and place it in a small bowl. Whisk the miso paste into the veggie broth until it forms a slurry and there are no chunks or clumps of miso. At this point, add the slurry back to the pot and give it a good stir, making sure the mixture doesn’t reach a boil.
It is so important to not let the mixture reach a boil! If it boils, the alcohol created by the fermentation process in the miso will evaporate & you’ll lose flavor. So keep the heat relatively low once the miso goes in.
Once the miso is all mixed in, scoop the soup and its constituents into a bowl and garnish with freshly sliced green onions.
Storing and reheating
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reheat, place everything in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, making sure it never reaches a boil.
Mushroom Miso Soup
- 4 cups veggie broth
- ¼ cup miso paste
- ¼ cup seaweed*, soaked & pressed
- ½ block tofu, cubed
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 6 oz shiitake mushroom, sliced
- 1 tbsp oil
- Add the veggie broth, tofu and seaweed to a large pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, add the oil to a skillet and fry the sliced mushrooms until golden brown.
- Remove 1/2 a cup of broth and place it in a bowl. Whisk the veggie broth with the miso paste until it forms a slurry, and then add it back to the pot, making sure it doesn’t reach a boil.
- Garnish with sliced green onions & serve.