This is a simple vegan soup rich in flavor and protein. Traditionally, the broth for miso soup is made with seaweed and/or fish paste (see Jinmyo's excellent miso shiru writeup for details); I made a watery mushroom broth instead.
- a largish pot (at least 3 quarts, to be on the safe side)
- olive oil
- half a pound of mushrooms (I used the plain white ones that come pre-sliced at the supermarket because I'm lazy, but you might want to experiment with combinations of more flavorful 'shrooms, like cremini or shiitake)
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
- 1.5 quarts of water
- half a cup of red miso
- half a cup of white miso
- a heatproof bowl
- some kind of ladle
- 1/3 to 1/2 pound of tofu (I used firm, but silken would probably be better, texture-wise)
Sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil in the pot over medium to high heat. When they start to brown and soften and smell good, add the garlic and lower the heat. Continue to sauté, maybe five more minutes, until the garlic juices mix with the mushrooms. Add the water, turn up the heat, and let everything simmer up to a boil.
While you're waiting for the broth to boil, measure the miso and put it in the heatproof bowl. When the contents of the pot begin to boil, turn down the heat under them and start ladling broth into the miso. Mix. Keep adding broth until the miso mixture is uniformly thickly liquid in its consistency. Turn down the heat on the broth again.
Add the miso mixture to the broth. Stir. Now go read Jinmyo's miso shiru writeup if you haven't already; if you taste the soup at this point you'll get nervous about the flavor and end up adding too much soy sauce, like I did the first time I made this. It'll be fine, so find something else to do. Clean up after yourself or something. But keep one eye on the broth; try not to let it boil.
Slice the tofu into smallish cubes (~1 cm) and divide it up between the bowls you're planning to serve the soup in. I used about 1/6 pound per person, but you might want to use a little more.
Ladle the soup into bowls with tofu. Turn off the heat under the soup and enjoy.
Serves about four, makes excellent leftovers for reheating (gently!) the next day.