Thursday, March 3, 2011

Noodle, Shiitake and Miso Soup

The first time I made miso soup it was a disaster of epic proportions. My first mistake was adding too much wakame, the seaweed traditionally used in the soup. It doesn't look like much of anything when it's dry but after a good soak it increases it's volume at least six fold. In moderation it's slightly sweet and tasty but when eaten by the mouthful it tastes just like seaweed on the beach smells. I also dissolved the miso into the soup itself, or at least I thought I did. I kept tasting the soup, thinking it was bland and mixing in more miso without realizing that I was just adding to the miso deposits at the bottom of my pot. Eating miso by the spoonful is not my idea of delicious. My last blunder was using extra-firm, instead of silken, tofu. As anybody who's eaten practically raw firm tofu knows, it's not a pleasant experience. Unless you're my father, who likes to eat toast topped with raw tofu drizzled in olive oil (it makes me shudder too). Thankfully, I've learned from my mistakes and the soup I bring you tonight hasn't suffered any of these wrongdoings.

This soup makes a pretty nutritionally complete light dinner or lunch. The tofu provides protein, the 'shrooms and the onions help you get your veg on, the wakame brings calcium and iodine to the table and the miso delivers some healthy bacteria. All of these ingredient can be found for very reasonable prices at your local Asian market. There are two within driving distance of my apartment and only relatively recently did I get up the nerve to go. Like some other people I know, I was overwhelmed by all the exotic offerings at first but, with a little guidance from some friends (thanks Alicia and Rayn!), I got over my paralyzing fear. I now strut into markets of any ethnicity with my head held high, and leave with a fuller wallet than if I'd bought the same ingredients at Whole Foods.

Noodle, Shiitake and Miso Soup 
Inspired by Udon with Shiitake Mushrooms and Kale in Miso Broth from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terri Hope Romero
Makes about 6 servings
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cups dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried wakame
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 oz / 115 g rice noodles
  • 8 oz / 115 g silken tofu (I used lite)
  • 3 1/3 tablespoons red miso (any other miso will do just fine)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth or soaking liquid from mushrooms and/or wakame
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce or more to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1.  While you prep your ingredients, cook the rice noodles in a large of boiling water for about 3 minutes less than the package suggests. They will cook more once in the soup.
2.  While the noodles are cooking, cover your mushrooms (if using dry ones) in water and soak them until they're soft. Since my dried shiitakes were already sliced I only soaked them for about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, soak the wakame in at least 4 cups of water until it's soft, about 4 minutes. Drain both the mushrooms and the wakame, reserving the soaking liquid for the if you're not using veggie broth. Set the wakame aside. If you're mushrooms aren't already sliced, slice them and set them aside.
3.  Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and rinse them in cold water.
4.  Wipe the pot you used to cook the noodles dry. Heat the oils in it over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, around 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Squeeze some of the liquid out of the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Cook them until they're warmed through and slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes.
5.  Add the broth or the reserved soaking liquid, bring the soup to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Put about 1 cup of the hot broth in a bowl or cup and dissolve the miso in it. Pour the liquid back into the pot with the soy sauce.
6.  Add the tofu, wakame, and noodles. Stir to distribute all the ingredients evenly and simmer for another 2 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.


  1. It really looks yummy and very easy... Sara, if you come to Wisconsin, call me, I let you stay at my house and you can cook something if you want :)

  2. Maria, thanks for stopping by! Y ahora te hablo en español que es lo que me sale ahora mismo hija. Si me paso por Wisconsin te llamo seguro y te cocino todo lo que haga falta. Anímate a ir a un mercadito asiático y a hacer la sopita. Comentame los resultados. Un besazo!