Hearty Miso Soup
July 28, 2011

Noodle soup, a staple of Southeast Asia, has such a basic composition that the varieties are infinite. Every town, every street vendor, or even every home can have their own slightly different variation. It consists simply of noodles in a flavorful broth, often savory, salty, spicy and sour, and usually topped with protein and vegetables. For example, the popular Vietnamese Pho is usually made of rice noodles, beef broth and toppings like onions and mint, while the Korean Janchi Guksu consists of wheat noodles in a seaweed broth often served with kimchi, eggs, and cucumbers. I based this noodle soup recipe on the traditional Japanese Soba, made of buckwheat noodles in a soy broth, often topped with green onions and tofu. I added eggs and mushrooms, which are common toppings for other Japanese noodle soups, and bok choy as a substitute for seaweed for some added nutrition. Miso soup took the place of the broth because it's my favorite and because it's especially simple.

This meal is rich, savory, easy to make, and completely versatile. You could top it with any protein, vegetable or condiment you like, you could even vary the toppings based on what is fresh and in season or what you already have in your refrigerator and pantry. It's warm and filling, and the presentation can be a change from the ordinary. The soup base is spicy and salty, and the mushrooms along with the soy give the soup a lot of savory "umami" flavor. The soup can also easily be adapted to serve any number of people. My favorite way to serve this meal is family style for a fun and homey feeling, by serving everyone a bowl of broth and noodles (and the eggs if you're using them) and then passing around the toppings so that each bowl can be customized.

Miso Soba is full of nutrients, from the added mushrooms and bok choy, and protein from the tofu and soba noodles. The soba noodles, made from buckwheat and gluten-free, are high in carbohydrates but have all eight essential amino acids, fiber, and protein and are low on the glycemic index. While the poached egg completes this meal by adding extra protein, excluding it would be a good way to make a less filling and lower calorie meal, or to make this soup part of a larger meal. Poaching eggs can be difficult, so they can also be cut out to make the meal faster or easier. eHow has good step by step instructions if you haven't made poached eggs before, which can be found here. These have to be eaten fresh, so only make as many as you're eating immediately. The ingredients and flavors in this recipe are very adaptable. You could use whatever kind of stock or broth you like to make the soup base, chicken or beef, homemade or canned, or just use water to make the miso and save money. The soba noodles, while the healthiest, could be replaced with Udon, rice noodles, et cetera. For a milder, sweeter and less salty miso flavor, yellow miso can be used instead of red (which is actually a dark brown color). If fresh shitakes aren't an option you can use other mushrooms or the dried variety and rehydrate them, but they will take on a chewier texture. Have fun creating your own perfect soup, or you can opt for variety and try a new version every time.
Hearty Miso Soup
Kathleen Neumark

3 Green Onions, sliced
1 cup cubed Firm Tofu
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
1 cup sliced Fresh Shitake
4 cups chopped Bok Choy
4 Eggs

2 teaspoons Chili Sesame Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
12 cups Vegetable Stock
12 cup of Red Miso Paste
1 tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
5 ounces Dry Soba Noodles

Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large pan and sauté sliced shitakes until soft. Lightly steam bok choy in a pot with a steamer tray, or in the microwave. The greens should just barely be soft and pliable- take care not to over cook them.

To make the broth, place chili oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook minced garlic until fragrant and soft, but not browned. Add the broth and whisk in the Miso paste and vinegar. Bring to a boil, and boil lightly for 3-4 minutes. Add soba noodles and cook according to the directions, around 3 minutes. Remove broth from heat, or heat very low for a short time until you are ready to assemble the bowls. Since all the toppings may not be hot, the broth must be.

Poach the eggs in a large pot of hot water. Make sure to slightly undercook them, because they will continue cooking as you assemble the bowls and as they sit in the hot broth. Remove the poached eggs from the water and work quickly to assemble to bowls. Add the hot broth and noodles to each bowl evenly. Top with green onions, tofu, shitake, greens, and eggs, placing them around the bowl in sections. Try to keep the ingredients and the soup hot. Serve quickly, and enjoy!

Calories*: 395 Fat*: 14 g Carbs*: 52 g Cholesterol*: 215 mg
Sugar*: 13 g Fiber*: 5 g Protein*: 20 g Servings*: 4 (1 Bowl each)

Ease*: 7/10 Categories: Main Dish
Total Time*: 60 minutes Active Time*: 60 minutes
Kosher: Parve


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