Having lived in Japan for four years, I find miso soup comforting any time of day, any time of year. There is nothing quite like the earthy, rich flavor of miso and dashi combined with fresh vegetables and seafood. One spring during cherry blossom season, my parents visited me, and we toured around Kyoto, the old capital bursting with delicate pink petals everywhere. Chilled by the crisp spring air, we ducked into a restaurant specializing in nabe (pronounced “NAH-bay”), or hot pots of vegetables and seafood in a broth cooked at the table. We ordered a miso-based nabe made in the style of the northern Hokkaido region, and it came with a hearty and colorful array of salmon, shellfish, and fresh vegetables. It warmed and nourished us, and we still talk about that delicious lunch many years later.
I made this simple miso soup that evokes the flavors of that Hokkaido-style nabe. It’s simple because I used pre-cooked salmon leftover from dinner (we have baked salmon about once a week, so often have leftovers, but you can cook it straight in the broth if you prefer) and instant dashi powder (look for MSG-free dashi, or make your own homemade dashi — see this great tutorial here). Some fresh shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage and cubed tofu round out this protein-rich and flavorful soup. Enjoy!
Simple Miso Soup with Salmon, Tofu, Mushrooms & Napa Cabbage
Makes 3-4 bowls
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 tsp. MSG-free instant dashi powder
- 4 Tbs. white miso paste (or a red-white awase mixture)
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 cups napa cabbage, chopped coarsely
- 1 block firm tofu, cubed
- 1 thin strip fillet of salmon, pre-cooked and broken into large pieces*
- 2 fresh scallions, chopped finely
- Bring the water to a boil in a large pot and add the dashi powder, mix well until the powder is dissolved. Turn the heat down to a low simmer.
- Put the miso in a small strainer and submerge it halfway into the simmering water. Use a spoon or chopsticks to swirl the miso and help it dissolve into the water through the strainer.
- Add the mushrooms and cabbage and stir until just cooked through, about a minute. Then gently add the tofu and salmon and cook until just heated through.
- Turn the heat off and sprinkle fresh scallions into the soup. Gently stir the broth to mix up the miso again, then spoon into bowls and serve with steamed rice and pickled daikon radish.
* If starting with raw salmon, cut into large pieces and cook in the dashi broth in step 1 before continuing to step 2.