Bye-Bye, Freeze-Dried Miso Soup — We Won’t Miss You

To me, miso soup has always felt impossible to make at home. This was partly due to intimidation (Japanese ingredients are so intense!), but also laziness. It's just so easy to pop into a sushi restaurant and get a cheap bowl to go, or pour some freeze-dried powder in hot water and be instantly transported to Japan (kind of). But, when a friend of mine served me a small bowl of her homemade miso, it was so good that it made me realize every other miso thing I had consumed to date had been basically salty water. This one was rich and thick. It had that satisfying umami tang. It was a meal in and of itself. Luckily, my friend is generous and shared the recipe with me. I tested it at home to make sure it wasn't a laborious process, and I was psyched to find that it took just 60 minutes. If you just thought to yourself, WHAT? 60 minutes? I'll just make the freeze-dried kind! I'm telling you: You don't know what you're missing. Also, most of that hour is rice-cooking time. Making the dashi (broth) takes almost no time at all. Read on for the recipe.
Photo: REX USA.
Patty's Miso Soup
Serves 4

For the rice
2 cups of short-grain brown rice
4 cups of cold water
1 tbsp butter (optional)
Pinch of sea salt For the miso soup
8 cups of cold water
1 large piece of kombu
1 generous cup of bonito flakes
1/2 cup sweet, white miso (add a little extra if you like a stronger flavor)
8 scallions, washed and sliced thin
1 block of extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper (optional) Instructions
1. First, get the rice going. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh colander and place in a heavy-bottom pot. 2. Add cold water, butter, and a pinch of salt. Cover with lid. Bring to a boil; then, turn down to a simmer, set a timer, and let cook for about one hour. Take off the heat and let rest with the top on once cooking time is up. 3. While the rice is cooking, make the dashi — a broth made of kombu and bonito flakes (sounds fancy, but it's no sweat). Rinse the kombu and add it to a pot with 8 cups of water, and place over high heat. 4. Just before the water boils, cut the heat and add the bonito flakes. Let it steep for 15 minutes and then strain. 5. Add in the miso paste and whisk well to combine (you can add more to taste, if you like). 6. Add in the cubed tofu and turn the heat back on to get the soup nice and hot.  7. Season with salt to taste. 8. To serve, place a scoop of rice in the bowl, and pour two cups of the soup on top. Be sure to gently stir the soup with a ladle before you scoop it — to make sure the miso and tofu are distributed evenly. 9. Garnish with sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and a little freshly ground pepper (optional). Enjoy!

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