When I was a little girl, my family attended church every Sunday. I never looked forward to going to church, but I sure did get excited about what came afterwards- lunch! Instead of big family dinners at Grandma’s house, we got to dine out. Who needs to be slaving over a stove and washing up a bunch of pots and dishes? It was Sunday. The Lord’s day. We all needed to rest and eat! When I say “WE,” I happen to mean my extended Filipino family of 9. When church was over, my granny, aunties, brothers, parents and I squeezed into our big blue van and headed to a restaurant.
Now that my brothers and I have grown up and moved out of the house, it’s great to see that this tradition still lives on. During our recent visit to NYC, we had plenty of Sunday lunches to catch up on and we made the best of every one of them. However, our whole family could no longer fit into my parents’ van. Over the years, a new generation of kids were born and spouses were added on. Our original party of 9 had expanded to a party of 15!
When the girls’ turned a year old, I was sad to see my babies become toddlers. Yet, one thing that is especially great about toddler hood is how the girls can eat practically anything I eat. So, when we went to dim sum, they feasted on congee, shu mai and shrimp rolls. When we had slices of New York pizza, they devoured the crusts and licked off the tasty tomato sauce! At our family’s favorite Japanese restaurant, they tried to eat sushi with chopsticks, but found that using their hands was a faster way to eat their cucumber rolls. They also delightfully slurped away at bowls of miso soup and I discovered their appreciation for this simple soup of fermented soy paste, sea veggies and tofu.
In fact, I wish I had thought of it sooner because it is one of the most simplest and tastiest soups to make. Oh, and of course, there are all the health benefits that come with it too!
This is miso soup from scratch, which is very simple to make. Truthfully, anything “instant” frightens me, but we all have to do what we have to do. If you keep reading on, you will find that making homemade miso soup is as simple as making oatmeal from scratch. (Reader- I hope you are making oatmeal from scratch 🙂 ) Miso soup and you might imagine: boiling water, ripping open a packet, pouring contents into a bowl, and with a swirl your soup is ready! Um… you are really missing out on something here. Yes, you still have to boil water, but with just a few simple additions, you can have a customized bowl of miso soup in your own home. Doesn’t everyone want something personalized and authentic these days?
I call this “Mommy and Me Miso Soup” because of the type of miso I used: white miso. This type is less salty than the others. Should I want to make a stronger pot miso for an adult palate, I tend to use a combination of brown and white miso and add a few more tablespoons.
It all starts with the broth. You need some Dashi broth to get started and this is REALLY EASY! You just take strips of dried kombu and place it in a pot of cold water. Then leave it overnight. In the morning, your broth is ready to go. This really is a mama/papa friendly recipe! I sneaked in a few more vegetables such as shitake mushrooms and spinach to boost up the nutrients in our soup, but feel free to leave them out. It becomes an even simpler soup if you just stick to the wakame and tofu. Enjoy!
Miso Soup and More (adapted from Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang)
Konbu Dashi Broth:
1 package of about 2 oz. of Kombu.
2 quarts of cold water
With a damp paper towel, wipe the strips of Kombu.
Then place it in a big pot filled with cold water.
Let it sit for 12 hours or like I do, overnight.
In the morning, the dried sea vegetable will have expanded and your broth is ready!
Remove the kelp (you can use slice it up and use it in a stir-fry with vegetables) and follow the miso recipe.
8 cups of Konbu Dashi
1/4 cup of Wakame (this needs to be soaked prior to using it in the soup. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain)
1 block of tofu, cut into tiny cubes
3 tablespoons (more if just for mama and papa) white miso paste
2 scallions, sliced thinly,
6 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 cup of spinach leaves
Set aside 1 cup of broth.
Place the rest of the broth in a deep pot.
Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat.
Add the mushrooms, wakame and tofu.
Let it cook for 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the miso paste with the remaining bowl of dashi.
Add spinach and check if the mushrooms are tender.
When ready, stir the miso paste into the soup and let it cook for another 2 minutes.
Do not let the miso paste cook any longer than that or you will lose all of its healthy benefits!
Pour into bowls and garnish with scallions.
Enjoy with your favorite lil’ person!