Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

Serve with Morovino 2009 or 2011 Pinot Grigio.

Mrs. Vino loves soup.  Does that mean I’m getting old?  It’s just so comforting and warm and light and easy to prepare.  This is one of our favorites.  Enjoy!

1 package shitake mushrooms—these are usually about 3-4 ounces.
9 C. fat free chicken or vegetable broth
1 5” piece of fresh ginger—peeled (no substitutions, this makes the dish)
1 whole head (yes I said head) of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of your knife
3T yellow miso paste (or red or white–whatever miso you can find. You should be able to find this in the refrigerator/deli section of your grocery store.  If Central Coast grocery stores carry it – EVERYONE carries it)
1 14-ounce package of extra firm tofu drained and cubed
1 T dark sesame oil
1 T olive or vegetable oil
¼ t crushed red pepper flake
12 ounces buckwheat Soba noodles or 1 package whole wheat thin spaghetti or vermicelli or angel hair pasta (optional—if you are serious dieting, this soup doesn’t need them)
1 ½ C (about ½ head) of shredded napa cabbage
½ C shredded carrot (I get the bags, I’m waaaayyyy to busy to shred carrots)
½ C finely sliced green onions

Remove the icky woody stems from the mushrooms. Set them aside. Slice the mushroom caps into ¼” strips. Then set them aside. In a large pot, combine the broth, shitake stems (ONLY the stems), ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the soup through a strainer into another pot—sorry, it’s a bit of a pain. Add Miso to strained broth and give it a good whisk in. Keep miso broth warm over low heat.

Back to the Shitake caps: heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced mushroom caps and red pepper flakes and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Add the mushroom mixture and the sesame oil to strained broth (they should simmer with the broth for at least 5 minutes. More is better. )

While the broth is simmering, chop the cabbage, open the bag of carrots, chop the green onions and dice the tofu. Boil some water and cook the noodles according to package directions.

Now, assemble: In cool little asian bowls (or big soup bowls, depending on how hungry you are), put a small handful of noodles (like 2/3 cup). I twirl noodles on a fork to make a little nest-looking pile. Pour 1 and ½ C of broth over the noodles (that’s about 3 ladles full). Top each bowl with a handful of cabbage, a couple of tablespoons of carrot, tofu and green onions—all to taste. Drizzle with a tiny bit of toasted sesame oil. HEAVEN. Makes great left overs. Just put the left over veggies and tofu into a little baggy. Take the soup to work in a Tupperware. Heat soup up. Add veggies and slurp away.

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