Miso Soup

INGREDIENTS:

7 cups water
3 x 6 inch piece of konbu (kelp), wiped with a damp cloth and scored with a sharp knife
Small handful (1/2 to 3/4 cup) hana katsuo (dried bonito flakes)
Ball of Miso the size of a tennis ball (white miso in warmer weather, 2:1 or 3:1 red miso to white miso in cold weather)
1/8 – 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine) in winter/cold weather
Tofu cubes
Wakame seaweed
Green Onio
ns, finely sliced

Place konbu in water and bring to a boil. Boil two minutes and turn off. Sprinkle bonito flakes into the water. Do not stir. When flakes sink, Dashi (that is the name for this, the basic broth at the root of much of Japanese cookery) is now ready. Strain into clean container.

NOTE: For vegetarian dashi, double the konbu, bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and cook down by 25%, add 1 cup cold water and simmer another 10 – 15 minutes. Remove konbu.

Dashi will keep 2 – 3 days in fridge or may be frozen at this point.

Strain dashi into clean pot, get dashi hot but not boiling, and whisk miso through a strainer immersed in the broth. (Boiling will destroy many of live nutrients in miso.)

Put garnishes into bowls and ladle soup over and serve immediately.

In winter, the body craves stronger and sweeter flavors. I use mirin and stronger miso. Remember that darker miso is saltier, so back off a little on the initial amount.

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Chef Andrew Cohen, Chef in Residence, Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets