Friday, October 21, 2016

Soup weather

I've been daydreaming about miso and mushrooms and ginger ever since my friend Jonathan's mushroom-laden dinner party last May, and have been making pretty regular batches of a simple, clear soup using brown rice miso, baby ginger, lotsa garlic, and shiitake mushrooms whenever I get hit with seasonal allergies... which in our nation's tempestuous weather capital is every few weeks. This recipe -- which came about when Robin, who directs the farmers market at 14&U, suggested I make a warming soup at the market this weekend -- is a bit more sophisticated, and is heavily based on one I saw in The NY Times a handful of months ago.

I've not been digging on soy as much lately, so I opted to replace the tofu with some Asian greens and butternut squash, which give it a different flavor and texture. It is still savory, warming, and delicious. Yes, even when you don't have the sniffles. I'm making another batch of the dashi right now and it smells like heaven....

Miso Mushroom Soup


Dashi (aka soup base)
  • 2 4-inch pieces of kombu (available at Whole Foods -- who knew!)
  • 1 handful dried oyster mushrooms, chopped (MYCOlumbia Mushroom has good ones)
  • 3 teaspoons tamari, or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 pound fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh baby ginger, minced
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons white miso
  • 1 bunch bok choy or tatsoi, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small (1/2") pieces
  • optional garnish: a few shallots, thinly sliced and fried

Make the dashi: Put kombu, dried shiitakes, soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a large soup pot. Add 6 cups cold water.

Place over medium heat, allow the liquid to barely reach a boil, then reduce heat to low and let cook at a very slow simmer for about 30 minutes. Skim foam as necessary.

Let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and add salt to taste. (I figured it would be much easier to use dashi at the farmers market if it was pre-made and cooled, and transported to the market in a few tightly sealed quart jars.)

Put the sliced mushrooms in a bowl and drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce. Add garlic and ginger and season with salt and pepper. Toss and let marinate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put dashi in a large soup pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in bok choy and butternut, and cook for 15 minutes, until butternut is tender.

Add mushroom mixture to soup and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are just tender.

Remove 1/2 cup hot broth from pot and place in a small bowl. Stir in miso to dilute, then return miso-broth mixture to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning. Once the miso has been added, do not let the soup boil.

Serve warm, with fried shallots on top as an optional -- but delicious -- garnish.

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