Bill has bronchitis and a sinus infection, both of which were accompanied by a bad sore throat for two days. Ever since I've known him, there have been two things that soothe his throat and make him feel better mentally, if not physically. One is tea with honey and fresh ginger. The other is a bowl of miso soup. And so, when Bill was feeling at his lowest earlier this week, I put together some soup for him.
The lovely thing about making a miso soup is that all the flavor is right there, waiting for you in the miso paste.
Miso paste is made from fermented rice, soybeans (and/or barley), salt, and Aspergillus oryzae, which is a fungus or mold used in the fermentation process in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine. There are a variety of miso pastes available, usually packaged according to color – white, yellow, red and brown are the ones I've seen and used. For miso soup, we usually use brown, but this week I couldn't get brown at the store I was in, so I used red.
Here are the ingredients:
Left to right – about half a package of firm tofu, cubed…4 tablespoons of red miso paste (you can use brown)…3 scallions, chopped.
The other ingredient, not pictured above, is water.
Pour 4 cups of water into a pan and bring to just under a boil.
Yes, me and my pictures of bubbles again.
Aren't they interesting? Like teeny tiny ball bearings, except they're air bubbles.
I almost got out my little close-up lens attachment to see how I'd do with that, but then I remembered…
"A watched pot never boils."
So I looked away until I could hear the bubbling begin.
At that point I shut off the heat and stirred in the miso.
Ordinarily I strain the miso by dunking the strainer into the hot water, pressing the paste through with a small rubber spatula. But this time when I started to do that, the mesh broke and lumps of miso paste dropped into the water. Ah well. So I just dumped the rest in and whisked it until the paste had dissolved.
It's not really necessary to strain the miso paste – all you're removing are the husks and small solid bits of the rice and soybeans and/or other solid ingredients from the fermentation process. All are edible, so if you don't mind them, you can leave them in.
Once there are no more lumps of miso paste in your pot, add in the tofu and turn the heat back on just long enough to heat the tofu through.
Now you want to ladle some of the broth and tofu into a bowl, sprinkle on some of the chopped scallions, and serve.
Mmmm…can you smell it? Warm and savory and slightly salty. Smooth and comforting with just a bit of zing and crunch from the scallions. Healthy as can be.
Quick and easy comfort food. Good for whatever ails you.