I vividly remember reading some of the books in this collection nearly a decade ago. I recall how some of these stories comforted me when I was down, gave me courage when I needed it, and inspired me during my teenage years. Indeed, just as chicken soup is supposed to be a home remedy for colds, Chicken Soup for the Soul was akin to a remedy that made my spirits feel better.
savoury oatmeal, chicken congee and miso soup – just not chicken soup.
But I soon got bored of the same old miso soup with tofu and wakame seaweed; I wanted a bowl of miso soup that is more exciting. So here comes the Japanese Miso Minestrone. If we can have minestrone in Italian cuisine, surely we can have a Japanese minestrone!
The beauty of this soup lies in the vegetable dashi stock used. Dashi is rich in umami and is the foundation of Japanese cooking. It gives a lovely undertone to this soup, and can also be used in chawanmushi, stews, salads, hotpots etc. The use of different vegetables here also gives this soup an added touch of sweetness. My taste buds may have been affected, but that touch of sweetness and umami was so evident that even I could taste it. My mom adored the soup, and even suggested that we made this variation more frequently.
Japanese Miso Minestrone
Adapted from Japanese Pure and Simple
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup white cabbage, finely chopped
1/3 cup carrots, diced
1/3 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/3 cup frozen garden peas
1/3 cup shimeji mushrooms (or your favourite mushrooms)
1/2 tsp salt
100g firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 litre vegetarian dashi stock (prepare ahead - see below)
2 tbsp white miso paste **
1 tbsp red miso paste**
White pepper, to taste (optional)
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onions and sauté until soft; add the rest of the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and sauté until soft. This will take about 5 mins.
- Add the tofu and dashi stock and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 mins.
- Put the miso pastes in a small sieve and submerge it halfway. Dissolve the miso paste with the back of a spoon into the soup. Stir the soup gently. Remove from heat and serve. Enjoy!
3 pcs (10cmx5cm/4”x2”) dried kombu kelp seaweed
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 liter water
- Soak the kombu and shiitake mushrooms in the water for 1.5 hours before placing over a medium-low heat.
- Bring the water to a gentle simmer, and remove the kombu pieces when they start to float. Increase the heat to high and boil for about 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Allow the stock to cool before removing the shiitake mushrooms. Now you’ll have a stock that is rich in umami.
** There are many varieties of miso in the market. white (Shiro) miso paste tends to be less salty, and have a sweeter taste, while red (Aka) miso tends to be saltier. You could use the type of miso paste which you prefer. My family finds that white miso is too sweet, and red miso is too salty, so we will usually mix the two. Alternatively, you could use a mixed (Awase) miso paste ;it is saltier than the white miso, but sweeter than the red miso.
Gluten-free: Some miso paste may be made from barley (which is not gluten-free), so do remember to read the ingredients list.