Miso soup, that salty, savory bowl dotted with scallions and tofu, is often just a precursor to an excellent tray of sushi. But it's a delicious meal in its own right too; miso soup with rice is a common Japanese breakfast.
Miso soup can be made almost instantly with chicken broth, homemade or store-bought. For the authentic sushi restaurant taste you can make it nearly as quickly with dashi, a broth made from dried seafood and seaweed.
I include ingredients for a very simple dashi here. In Japan there are different kinds of dashi, and ingredients are varied according to the season and the final use for the broth. You can also use a powdered mix to make instant dashi broth.
For the miso, look for the paler "white" miso, or the common golden shinshu. These will be found in the refrigerated section of your Asian grocery.
makes two servings
1/4 cake of firm or silken tofu 2 scallions 2 cups chicken broth or dashi 2 tablespoons miso paste
Drain the tofu and cut it into very small cubes - about 1/2 inch on each side. Slice the scallions fine.
Bring the broth to a boil, then add a few spoonfuls to a cup with the miso paste. Whisk until the miso has softened and dissolved then add it all back into the broth. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tofu. Do not let the broth boil again; simmer lightly until the tofu has warmed, add the scallions and serve.
makes 2 cups
2 inches of kombu, dried black kelp 2 cups of water 1/2 cup katsuobushi, dried bonito tuna flakes
Heat the kelp and water over medium heat, and remove the kelp just as the water comes to a boil. Add the bonito flakes and boil and for a minute or two, then remove the pan from the heat. Let the broth sit and settle for about five minutes, then strain out the flakes.