Friday, January 17, 2014

Miso and Soba Noodle Soup with Roasted Sriracha Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms


Ever since living with a bunch of health nuts in Santa Cruz many years ago, I've held up miso soup as the pinnacle of wholesome meals. Fermented miso paste is full of good bacteria, brothy soups keep you sated longer, and, if you add whole grains, protein, and vegetables, it becomes a meal.


My housemate Debra used to make the tastiest bowls of the stuff. When I moved to San Francisco, I decided to take a bit of Santa Cruz with me by instituting "Miso Mondays." The idea was to start the week with a big bowl of soup for dinner in order to counteract the fact that I worked at a bakery where I spent the whole day cramming brownie pieces into my maw.


But Miso Mondays lasted exactly one Monday. The reason? I couldn't get miso soup to stop tasting like punishment.


At its most basic, miso soup can be simply hot water stirred into miso paste and studded with cubes of tofu and a few rings of scallion. For a more substantial soup, I would try simmering vegetables in the broth, but the resulting pot always lacked the oomph I was looking for. I relegated miso soup to something I ate only when under the weather, and I got my miso fix in salads and pâtés, instead. 


But that all changed last week. Jay had a cold and I wanted to make him something light and brothy to sip on, so I decided to rethink miso soup. I borrowed the broth method from The Real Food Daily Cookbook. I borrowed the fixings from 101 Cookbooks, and I added some tweaks of my own.


I decided to roast the tofu along with some shiitake mushrooms in a mixture of toasted sesame oil, tamari, and sriracha for the tofu. This gives them a bit of caramelization and a whole lot of flavor which does a lot to enhance the finished soup (assuming you can keep yourself from eating them all straight from the baking sheet).


The "stock" is a simple infusion of kombu (a hefty type of seaweed), a few dried shiitake mushrooms, and several slices of ginger. This gets strained and whisked into a whole lot of miso paste. I usually use South River white or yellow miso; both have a salty-sweet flavor with a bit of funk from fermentation in wooden vessels. Miso can vary in saltiness, so I add tamari until the stock tastes just right, and a squeeze of lime to brighten the flavors. Cooking the soba noodles in salted water (contrary to the package directions) helps to give it a flavor boost, too.


I wanted some dark, leafy greens in there, as well. Our co-op has been carrying "motly kale" – a pretty bouquet with several different varieties of leaves. Some are deep purple with ruffled leaves, some have spiky green leaves, and some are the lacinato variety that I usually spring for.


To assemble the soup, a tangle of soba noodles goes into a large bowl (I use these, handmade by my über-talented friend, Amelia). The noodles are topped with the roasted tofu and shiitakes, the kale-y miso broth, and finished with thinly sliced scallion, sesame seeds, and togarashi, a Japanese chile powder. The noodles make the soup feel filling and a little decadent; plus it's fun to slurp them from the brothy bowl. Noodles made from 100% buckwheat tend to fall apart more than the ones made with some wheat flour (pictured here), but they can be used for a gluten-free option.


I'm pretty thrilled with this miso soba soup, but I can imagine all kinds of variations and additions, too: roasted sweet potato, kabocha squash, or cauliflower in the fall; fava beans, asparagus, peas or pea shoots in the spring; roasted summer squash or Japanese eggplant in the summer; edamame, hijiki or wakame anytime. You can top a bowl with bonito flakes, smoked trout or steamed salmon. And the other night we nestled a poached egg into each bowl. 


Miso Mondays are suddenly sounding a little more fun.


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Super soups:
Cauliflower and Yellow Split Pea Soup with Turmeric and Curried Ghee
Curried Red Lentil, Kale, and Sweet Potato Soup
French Lentil and Spinach Soup 

One year ago:
Quinoa, Beet, and Chickpea Burgers
Breakfast Bars with Apricots, Prunes, and Almonds (Gluten- and Dairy-free)

Miso and Soba Noodle Soup with Roasted Sriracha Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

With inspiration from 101 Cookbooks and The Real Food Daily Cookbook

As I mention above, feel free to experiment here. Udon, ramen, or rice noodles can stand in for the soba. Noodles made entirely from buckwheat tend to be more fragile, but they make a flavorful gluten-free option nonetheless. Other seasonal vegetables can take the place of the kale and shiitakes. I usually use white or yellow miso, but feel free to experiment with different types. This soup welcomes a poached egg on top, or fish in place of the tofu, too. If not serving it all right away, store the components separately in the fridge until you're ready to put it all together.

Makes 4 large bowls

Broth:
2 inches ginger root, sliced into coins
4-6 (4" square) sheets kombu
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
8 cups water
1/2 cup sweet white or yellow miso
2 tablespoons tamari (optional, depending on saltiness of miso)
juice of 1 lime or lemon, to taste

Fixings:
8 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu, in 1/2" cubes
8-12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, ends trimmed, sliced (about 6 cups)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (divided use)
3 tablespoons tamari (divided use)
1 - 2 teaspoons Sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it)
12-16 ounces soba noodles (depending how noodley you like it)
1 bunch kale, stemmed and slivered
2 large or 3 small scallions, washed, trimmed, slivered
toasted sesame seeds or gomashio (optional)
togarashi (optional)

Make the miso broth:
In a large, heat-proof bowl or pot, combine the ginger, kombu, dried mushrooms, and boiling water. Let steep while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, 20-30 minutes. Carefully strain the stock, leaving behind any sand that may be hanging out on the bottom of the pan (or pour through a coffee filter if you prefer). Add half a cup of stock to the miso paste and stir it to loosen. Add the miso to the stock, and taste for salt, adding tamari and lime juice until you like the flavor.

Make the fixings:
While the stock is doing its thing, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF. Place the tofu on a smallish, rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon each of the sesame oil and tamari. Add the Sriracha and toss to coat. Roast in the oven until hot and slightly crisp on the outside, tossing once or twice, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place the shiitakes on a smallish, rimmed baking sheet and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons each sesame oil and tamari. Roast until tender and shrunken, tossing once or twice, about 10 minutes.
 
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the noodles are tender but not falling apart (see the package for cooking time). Drain the noodles and rinse them in cool running water. If not using immediately, toss with a bit of oil to prevent sticking. Otherwise, divide the noodles between 4 large bowls and keep warm.

Serve the soup:
Re-warm the stock until steamy-hot but not simmering. Add the kale and cook just below a simmer until wilted and bright green.

Divide the noodles among 4 large bowls. Add the shiitakes, tofu, and scallions. Pour the hot broth and kale over the fixings. Top with sesame seeds, gomashio, and/or togarashi, if you like.

29 comments:

  1. This soup sounds great! I have generally gotten my miso fix in eggplant glaze form with lots of tahini, but a homemade miso soup sounds like an even better idea. (Or both, really.)

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    1. Mmm! That sounds amazing! We should have a pot luck. :)

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  2. Hi Alanna, Your miso soup looks great. I've been making this soup from the blog "The First Mess" at work and it has been a huge hit:

    http://www.thefirstmess.com/2013/01/02/magic-healing-soup-recipe/

    I use galangal instead of ginger, and I add a couple of strips of kombu to the broth (like you do). And I add tofu, too!

    My regular miso soup is a lot like yours - I have also experimented adding astragalus root and fresh turmeric root to the pot when I am making the dashi. Thanks for your recipes! They are always delicious :)

    Cheers,

    Sara

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    1. Hi Sara,

      Thanks for the sweet note! That soup from The First Mess looks delicious, and your modifications sound capital. I haven't experimented much with astragalus, though I used to enjoy a type of chai made with it. I'll have to check it out! I've been completely obsessed with turmeric root lately, though! I've been grating it into lemonade and using it in honey ginger lemon tisane, and putting in the smoothies that I wrote about earlier this month. I just heard Andrew Weil speak last night; he said that alzheimer's rates in India are the lowest in the world because they eat turmeric at every meal! I'll have to try adding it to the miso broth next time. Thanks for reading, and for the kind words, Sara!

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  3. Your photos continue to be incredible! This soup looks really delicious, and I love Miso soup. Wondering about another noodle option if it would work with rice noodles, and also an alternative to tofu which seems to dislike my stomach. Thoughts?

    -YS

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    1. My sister! Thanks for the sweet note! You can definitely use rice noodles for the buckwheat, or you can get 100% buckwheat noodles which are also GF. You could put the marinade on a piece of fish, roast it in the oven, and then stick it in the soup for a tofu substitute. :)

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  4. I love the astragalus/fresh turmeric tip, as well as roasting the tofu cubes instead of pan searing them! Here's my contribution: I love to add strips of young coconut meat cut like noodles - about tagliatelle size. No need to cook them, just stir them in before serving. They add a delicately sweet, tender note that I love contrasted with the shitakes, greens and soba. So delicious. And I can only eat miso soup if it has green onions on top - a must! Also, soba, homemade by a friend? Wow! The best!

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    1. OMG, strips of young coconut meat sound insanely good - definitely trying that! Ditto for homemade soba noodles! Thanks for the great suggestions! :)

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  5. 1) I'm so glad to have found you! Gorgeous photos, fun blog. 2) This is some serious soba. 3) Pinned, added to my reader, and all that good stuff! Look forward to coming back soon. :)

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    1. Hi Em! Thanks for the sweet note! I'm glad to find your blog as well - everything looks delicious!

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  6. This is gorgeous. From start to finish. These pictures should be in a magazine spread. My husband ADORES noodle soups and I'm sending him this recipe as inspiration. Thank you for sharing such a delicious recipe. I hope you have a wonderful start to your week!

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    1. Awww!!! You are too kind, Monet. I hope you and your family love this soup. Thanks for reading, and for the incredibly sweet words. Wishing you a wonderful start to your week, as well!

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  7. This looks so wholesome and hearty! Your photos are beautiful:)

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! I think *your* photos are beautiful, and I'm all over that salted caramel pudding!

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  8. Beautiful, can't wait to make this! You hit the nail on the head — miso + hot water is simply watery miso. Traditionally, it's mixed with dashi, a broth made from bonito flakes, something for the flavor of the miso to rub up against, which the shiitake also do!

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    1. Totally! I love dashi stock, too, it's just that I never have bonito flakes around when I need them, since the co-op we shop at is vegetarian (though we are not!). Now I'm curious to try them here. Thanks so much for the sweet note, and for reading!

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  9. This looks ridiculously good. And so healthy. Yum!

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  10. This looks so good, I'm going to make it tonight! Do you or any of your readers know how long white miso keeps after being opened? (37* coldest part of frig)

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    1. Awesome! My miso jar says "to keep miso for an unlimited time, please refrigerate." So I would say at least a year. Mine will sometimes oxidize a bit on the top, but I've never had it go bad. Please let me know how you like the soup! :)

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  11. I made this today, it was fantastic! I substituted shrimp for the tofu and added cilantro. I will definitely make it again! Thank you!

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    1. Yum - that sounds delightful! Thank you for sharing your variation, Molly. :)

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  12. So making this! I'm entering a tofu and miso-obsession phase and I've been wanting to try making miso soup with my brand-new container of miso! Thanks for steering me clear of bland, soulless miso soups :)

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    1. Ahh, that's awesome! And you're very welcome! Simple miso soups have their place (like when you're really sick and just need something hot and fast), but I like building more flavor when I have the energy. Hope you love this one - let me know how it goes. :)

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  13. Made this for dinner, and my goodness, it is delicious! I used teriyaki sauce rather than sriracha on the tofu, which gave the soup a mild sweetness. I also used soba made from buckwheat and yam flour (it's called Shirakiku Zaru Soba with Yam) -- another gluten-free option that has a less earthy flavour than soba made entirely from buckwheat.
    Thanks for a great, versatile recipe!

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    1. Oh yay, I'm so glad you like the soup! Teriyaki sauce sounds delicious here, and I'm super intrigued about those buckwheat yam noodles. I'll definitely keep an eye out for them! Thanks for the nice note. :)

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  14. I am SO into this. Looks amazing. The photos are absolutely gorgeous as well! I'm a total miso addict :) And "motly kale" is about the best thing I've ever heard of!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Allison! I thought Motly Kale would make a good name for a Vegan Punk band, in addition to good miso soup. ;)

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Nice comments make me warm and fuzzy!